Journey into nature

Starting in early March, Rebecca and Claire, two Early Childhood Educators with Cire Children’s Services began a 6 session exploration of Nature Pedagogy.

Pedagogy is described as “the study and theory of the methods and principles of teaching” (Collins Dictionary) and Natural Pedagogy is described as “An understanding of our sense of belonging to land, our sense of working with nature. There is a pedagogical shift when you move outside into nature… it’s learning with nature, not just teaching about it.” Claire Warden, Educational Consultant.

The Nature Pedagogy course is run by the knowledgeable and passionate Claire Warden, an International Educational Consultant who has had many years of experience working with children, professionals and in the outdoors. Claire Warden is a recognised author of more than 20 books, has started her own nature kindergarten in Scotland and is involved in many community projects and organisations.

Rebecca, who is the pre-school teacher for the four year old kindergarten group at Yarra Junction campus and Claire the kindergarten assistant, are attending the course to further their ability to implement the natural environment into their curriculum and to learn how to engage children (and themselves) in the beauty, awe and wonder of nature and beyond.

“Nature is a powerful teacher” Claire Warden, Educational Consultant

The first two sessions held in March explored concepts like working with hand tools such as whittling tools, saws, files, sandpaper, hole punches and hammers. Rebecca and  Claire learnt how to make cordage, the art of weaving and how to bind materials together using rope/string. They examined a Risk Benefit Assessment and looked at the advantages of positive risk, and how to encourage children to be responsible for their own safety.

“We learnt that when children are provided with the right level of risk in a supervised environment they are encouraged to learn to assess their own skills and match them to demands of the environment. In turn, children are able to think for themselves and assess risks appropriately, subconsciously or consciously asking themselves “how high can I climb this tree?” “Will this log hold my weight?” “Can I jump that distance” etc. Risk is important in developing these skills and furthermore help children to develop resilience and confidence.” Claire Savage, kindergarten assistant.

Rebecca and Claire engaged in discussions about the need to explore the ‘great beyond’ and move past the indoor environment, in order to further children’s understandings of the natural and constructed world.

“It is important for children to engage in the natural environment as it instils a sense of awe and wonder which cannot be found in the material environment. Sensory elements in the natural environment encourage children to use all of their senses when investigating the world and the benefits of physical play it is well known – which is also stimulated by natural outdoor play. The natural environment helps us to connect to the environment and concepts such as sustainability, environmental awareness and action.” Claire Savage, kindergarten assistant.

Rebecca and Claire also explored concepts such as territories, and looked into the art of cubby building and encouraging children to become hands on and advocates in their learning journeys.

Rebecca and Claire have absorbed and learnt an immense amount from the Nature Pedagogy course in the first two sessions and are very much looking forward to the remaining sessions to be held later in the year. These sessions will cover natural elements including sand, mud, clay, puddles, wind, light and shadow, feathers and flight and demonstrate how these elements can be used in an experiential basis in the kinder room or classroom to encourage and inspire learning.

For further information about Claire Warden, Educational Consultant click here

Cire Children’s Services Yarra Junction 4 year old funded bush kindergarten is now taking enrolments. For further information visit our Children’s Services page and also keep your eye our for the Yarra Ranges Kids magazine (due out end of this month) for a featured article on the benefits of the program.

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