Monday, 8 November 2010

Taking the playgroup outdoors

It was a difficult decision to take a break from my favourite forest kindergarten, where Cubling explored the wilderness of Pollok Country Park on a weekly basis with her good friends and great teachers. However, you only get maternity leave for a year, and as I work almost full time when not on leave, I just want to spend more time with Cubling in this window of opportunity. At the same time my enthusiasm for outdoor learning is undiminished, so the decision to take a break from the forest kindergarten was only made when I found out about Nurture in Nature, an ad hoc group of parents who take their children outdoors twice a week.

It's a great idea and shows what you can do yourself, without an organised childcare setup (and I appreciate that it may only work for non working parents). The group consists of parents who like me value the opportunities that outdoor learning gives to children. And the idea is beautiful in its simplicity. Twice a week, the parents and children meet up at 10am at an outdoor location (which incidentally is also easy to get to by public transport, thus reducing the need for a car) and the children are let loose to play. They play with each other and things they find. There may be some occasional activities that parents initiate, but mostly it's the kids who with their own creativity come up with what they want to do.

A group much to my own liking. It costs nothing, apart from the bus/train fare to the location. Because a parent is present, there's no need to register with the Care Commission or go through any police checks, which means there's no complex administration. The parents just do it. It's effectively taking a playgroup outdoors.

So, from last week, I'm able to offer Cubling (and Snowflake who I take along of course) the joys of the outdoors in company with other children. And as a plus, it's even with mum.

What did we do? Well, we discovered a wood, trees, sticks and the beautiful autumn foliage. We found a swing, logs to balance on, jump off from and sit down on for a picnic lunch. We found a wooden board and built a bridge over a burn, crossed it, and crossed it again. Built the bridge in different locations and balanced it on stones. We then dared to cross the burn on foot. We splashed in extra deep puddles (it's been a rainy week in Scotland), collected sticks and drew in the mud. Cubling got to know new children and told me all about what you can do with leaves, puddles, sticks, logs, water and more. We got very soaked, very cold, very tired and very happy.

:: This post is part of outdoor challenge Monday, which is hosted on 5 Orange Potatoes, where you can read many post on how to incorporate the outdoors in your child's life. You can also sign up to take part.::



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