wild about play

Enabling Environments
Autumn Leaves in Putney

11/27/2019

We love debating and talking about all things that impact our children and their emotional resilience from schooling to social skills, to pioneering collaborative minds that will change our world for a better tomorrow. If you feel strongly about something, please do get in touch and let us know. Equally, everything below is a conversation starter, so let us know what you think!

So much of children’s development is rooted in their own self confidence. Child led play within an enabling environment in the outdoors helps children listen to their inner voice and become more creative and resilient.  Child led play may sound easy, but enabling this constructively and safely to inspire children and extend their learning and social skills requires an environment that is set up for this and teachers who are dynamic, skilled, experienced, and most importantly, take the time to know your child.

Here at Wild about Play (WaP) we believe passionately about providing an environment that enables our children the comfort and freedom to explore and express themselves in a safe place. Our setting in the wild beautiful grounds of All Saints Church in Putney is an ideal space for them to enjoy nature and learn more about caring for one another and the local area. Our dynamic, reflective educators ensure that it is the children who lead each activity we participate in during our sessions. Using the outdoor space on a regular basis ensures they have natural stimulators that can become catalysts for the day’s lesson, and gives them the autonomy and inspiration that is not usually afforded in an indoor environment. As nature evolves with the seasons and weather, we are able to ensure that no two days are the same – whether it be pointing out the ever-changing colours of fallen leaves, or using the previous night’s rain to demonstrate the habitats of our local ecosystem.

Having the freedom to roam and explore provides children with the chance to challenge themselves in a less restrictive environment than a classroom. At WaP, we insist on experimentation. This ensures “new windows of opportunity are opened through which children can express themselves (Edwards et al, 2012; Knight, 2009) and that provide the stimulus for understanding and making links with the world around them” (Marlon Gibbins, Early years, primary school and forest school teacher, 2018). By supplying a variety of everyday items, the children are free to create anything from bark rubbings to stick puppets; from tee-pees to boats, and from obstacle courses to ladders. “Play emphasises how children should never be seen as passive recipients of knowledge, they are actively constructing, reinterpreting, analysing, formulating hypotheses, and problem solving as they interact with their environment and others (Smidt, 2011; Edwards et al, 2012)” (Gibbins, 2018).

Being free to create, explore and lead whilst discovering more about our surroundings is vital for children to develop understanding of themselves, their peers and the nature that we live in every day. We are so fortunate to have an environment that enables such freedom through the educators, setting and resources we use every day.

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