Sunday, 3 October 2010

Oh No...Not Another School Nature Trail!

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"Craig's work is full of individual ideas and that different way of looking which begins to alter your perspective in a consistent and lasting way." Steve Biddulph

On an Outdoor Learning CPD day I held last week for teachers, one of the people attending told me about her school's plans to create a Nature Trail in the woody copse they have on the school grounds. It would have paths, name-signs on the trees and suggestions for learning activities.
Another spoke about how they had developed their playground to include some natural elements - a large balancing log, some painted, nature pictures on the hard surfaces and a bird table.

How do we help children engage with Nature?

Children need to really throw themselves into a relationship with nature. They need to play with nature, not only in it. The natural outdoors has extremely positive effects on children's play and on their learning. And natural or nature play is the key - play, where the focus is on the relationship with nature - not on the game or on the learning. Engaging with nature at an early age in a continuing relationship builds enormous benefits for the child and also for our environment. Learning to love nature is critical for all and everything involved.

Children need to be able to relate freely. They need to play. They need to build dens, catch frogs and search for insects, scatter ants and be mesmerised by bees and stinging insects. They need to create bridges over creeks, swing in trees, dig traps and redirect puddles into streams. They need to hear the quiet and the birdsong, the sound of the wind in the leaves, feel the warmth of the sun beam and the chill of frosty crystals in the winter.

This level of participation is not encouraged by the nature trail - facillitated by the worksheet to maintain attention; nor is it by the balancing log in the hard surface playground.

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1 comment:

  1. Ok, so how does a teacher (who perhaps does not feel very confident) take her class out and support them in becoming inspired towards the environment? Is there some compromise - some activity between a "trail" and the freedom to simply go and explore (the latter which is much more difficult to assess)?