Tuesday, September 4, 2012

beach kindy:one

We have been bored, during the day, lately. The two littles have been pretty patiently waiting an end to yucky weather, colds and flu and a massive dose of laziness in their mama. The middle boy wants to go to Kindy every day (which makes me a bit sad). A couple of weeks ago, I was inspired by the idea of Bush Kinder (thanks, Kate!), and wondered how it could fit in our lives.

Throughout my career as an Early Childhood teacher, I've questioned the disparity between our cultural view of childhood and children, which is becoming increasingly complex, and our provisions for children in both educational and care settings, and family settings. On the one hand, we all (generally) agree that young children are capable and competent, able to engage actively in their own learning. That young children learn best when engaged in meaningful, purposeful play, especially when the adults around them practise sustained shared thinking.

Yet, play has becoming a sterilized version of what it once was. The gang of kids riding bikes down to the river or into the bush to spend the day, that I remember from my childhood, seem to have disappeared. Spiky plants have been removed from preschools, climbing trees banned by local councils and doing a handstand or cartwheel in some public schools will see you with a detention. How will children learn to calculate risk and choose appropriate behaviour if we adults just remove all the risk? Isn't it better to support the child to assess their own risks?

I must admit, when we moved to the beach, the difference in the way children are parented kind of scared me. My teacher brain calculated the myriad risks on the beach- large spaces for running away, rocks for banging heads, water for drowning- and I wondered if I would ever manage to be as relaxed as the other parents. My confidence grew as I watched my kids become more familiar- and therefore safer- with the beach. And today, Beach Kindy began!
We took a blanket to sit on, a basket to collect things, and some fruit, water and bikkies for morning tea.
We began with noticing: looking around and talking about what we see. The idea will be to start with this each time, so that we can think about changes over time. We noticed lots of seaweed, a bird with long legs and a long beak walking through the weed, and lots of logs, big and small.
Next we did some wandering and collecting.
Someone had been doing some building. We sat in the "little house" and had morning tea. Then we wandered some more and did some digging in the sand, making cakes and singing favourite counting songs.
A natural playground. The way it should be.

16 comments:

  1. lovely - have been following the bush kindy/forest kindy/snow kindys with interest (and wishing had taken part in/created one with my 2 little ones, They are too old for kindy now technically but still take this approach sometimes with a bushwalk or a trip to the beach. Lots of incidental teaching and learning opportunities and risk taking and FUN

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  2. Thanks Michelle- I am very aware of the priveledge of living near this beautiful place. Forest schools in the UK and Europe also run for primary-aged kids, I think it's a completely valid learning style for older kids too! s.

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  3. Hey Sarah, this is just lovely. Maybe we could join you one morning? Love that last picture.

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  4. Yes, Vanessa! Do! Tuesday morning, 9ish, Copa beach, up the rock pool end. See you if I see you :)sarah

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  5. what a fantastic idea, I would love to live closer to the beach so I could also do this.

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  6. Such a gorgeous idea! I've just stumbled on your blog at it is truly a beautiful space. I'm off to have a cuppa and a lovely potter around.
    Steph :)
    P.S. As an early childhood teacher too I know only too well the risk calculations that go before an outing...how do we turn that teacher brain off?!

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    1. It is really difficult Steph! There are so many long-standing practices in EC that still make me shake my head; raking disinfectant through the sandpit for example- huh??!! I've loved visiting your blog too :)

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  7. okay so i'm just hitting your archives (dave and I have been reading over each others shoulders- he remarked that he loves the fluidity with which you write).

    Gosh, you write so beautifully, you know so much and have SUCH insight to the way children work/thing/ should be.

    plus- COPA? dude, we are totally neighbours.

    xo em

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    1. oh, hey, thanks! (blush) and, hi, dave!

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  8. p.s betchya you know my mother- she worked in early childhood on the cost for years (still does)

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    1. I wish! I'm not a real local (only two more generations to go!), my career (or what's left of it) is in Western Sydney ;)

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