To mark International Children’s Day 2017, Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten is excited to announce the launch of ‘Nature Nurtures’, a new early years’ conference dedicated to helping children grow and progress organically.

We are celebrating festivals that create a sense of belonging and mark the rhythms of the year. At Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten we have been celebrating some of the Steiner inspired festivals to mark the change in seasons. Olivia introduced us to the Advent/Winter Spiral

Deborah Carlisle Solomon, RIE® Associate and leading expert in the development and care of infants and young children, offers insight the RIE® way in her book, Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, the RIE® Way.

 

At our last Friday team meeting, Helen shared an observation that got us all thinking and reflecting on the last couple of weeks. In the House, we have various resources for children to access freely. Most days, but certainly not all, there has been quite a lot of these resources out; wooden blocks, scarves, play dishes, art materials, etc. Helen noticed that once we come in to the House, some children might rush to the art trolley or the block building area, grab at various materials and use them in a rather frantic way.

Here Heather Shumaker speaks to the natural development of children; at their own pace, in their own time. In our opinion early academics steal valuable play time - crucial to children's social, emotional, physical and cognitive development.

Experiential learning is something we take seriously at Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten. We believe that as human beings we learn best by doing. Take a look at the video for more about Bev Bos - international speaker and activist on all things play in early childhood.

 

We are celebrating festivals that create a sense of belonging and mark the rhythms of the year. At Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten we have been celebrating some of the Steiner inspired festivals to mark the change in seasons. Olivia introduced us to Martinmas and the tradition of the lantern walks.

The education revolution: This RSA Animate video was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award.

We take care of ourselves, we take care of each other, and we take care of the place we’re in

This is something I heard whilst on our Progressive Education Tour in Los Angeles this year. I like the simplicity of it and the emphasis on caring. This is something we see at Kindergarten on a daily basis. I never cease to be amazed at the generosity and kindness these children show towards one another.

As we come to the end of another academic year we find ourselves saying goodbye to a number of special people and their families. As I look back over the last two years there are so many magical moments that will never fade from my memory. The children that have been under our care for the past two years are children that will never be forgotten. Along with their parents, they were the forerunners of this kindergarten. This is something to be both commended and celebrated!

We had always spoken to C openly about things, careful to include him, but far from the extent that we have since learning from RIE teachings. This was a lesson we had to learn quickly, when we got lumbered with my series of absences and operations last year.

For us, learning about RIE in helping C through his emotional growth has been relatively organic. As situations arose where I questioned my actions, or felt any doubt of understanding, I would seek knowledge through Janet Lansbury's extensive archive of RIE teachings.

One of our first experiences of using RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) was during an awful week long stay in hospital that I had during treatment. It was the hardest week of our lives - I wasn't allowed to have C visit me since I was on a neutropenic ward and the separation was utterly unbearable for us all. While my desperate, heart-broken tears fell daily in my hospital bed, C's desperate, pining tears fell daily in our empty home. Even though he had a strong bond with his daddy, C couldn't comprehend where I'd gone and why I wasn't there. There hadn't been a night that we'd spent apart since he was born, and suddenly we'd been torn apart against both of our wills.

I often think about the day that I sat in our old house, in that pokey, cosy lounge with C just a few weeks old, snuggled to my breast, as I chatted to our health visitor. Super Nanny came into conversation, who I talked of warmly, as a guiding light in child care. Our health visitor did not share the same view, and even that early on, it gave me food for thought, because I valued the thoughts of our health visitor, and she too was a guiding light to me. It opened my mind to the fact that perhaps even though Jo was hailed as an icon in child care, it didn't mean her way was right.

We are a few weeks into the Spring Term now and it’s been a good few weeks of exciting new beginnings and re-connecting for us and our children at Kindergarten. The first weeks after a break are always interesting; I’ve seen feelings of excitement and shyness about seeing each other again, sadness that some friends have moved on to new schools and are no longer here, happiness and warmth at re-connecting again, and lots of energetic displays of singing and dancing (!).

Slowing down; we try to do this each day, often talking with our practitioners about the importance of this. The background work of reflecting on practice, scaffolding the children’s learning and development, documentation to be written and organised, ideas to be shared and put into action, and housekeeping in the House to upkeep...this of course isn’t slow! There’s a certain energy and speed required ‘behind the scenes’ in accomplishing all of this – we all work hard at this. But our work with the children is another story.

As we follow an emergent curriculum at Kindergarten which focuses on the children’s interests and the teacher’s it has been so exciting to see what the children have brought to Kindergarten as the build up to Christmas commenced. There’s been laughter and delight as well as curiosity about the shadows and lights we have needed in order to bring light to the longer evenings. Father Christmas has featured (a grandpa, with a slim body and long beard, or a round face and a tall hat), as well as the joys (and sometimes the hard feelings) that come with giving and receiving.

We believe that our work with young children is incredibly important. This is based on our understanding that the way we are with babies and young children greatly influences the adult they will become. Because of this, at Nurture we work incredibly hard to create an environment, and indeed a culture, that values trust and respect.

Parents – and often grandparents too – are children’s first and most important educators, and home is where the journey through development begins. However, other environments such as a nursery, nursery school or kindergarten will also significantly influence this process. 

When showing people around kindergarten I often get asked “What experience/qualifications do you have” and “What made you open a kindergarten?” What they really want to know – quite rightly – is “How might my child be influenced, shaped and guided by time spent in this environment, with these people?”

Nurture Outdoor Kindergarten uses an emergent curriculum, with play at its heart. Magda Gerber sums up our thoughts on this beautifully here.