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!