The Care Inspectorate has recently released a very informative document to support serttings in creating outdoor play experiences for children. We are fortunate to have a wide range of outdoor play opportunities open to us at ACE Place, we regularly use our gardens, local parks, woodlands and forests and our children are happy to explore a variety of different environments.
Outdoors with ACE Place
As well as day to day outdoor play many of our staff have benefitted from Forest School Training and we hold regular sessions from both Rodger Drive and Crawfurd Road to promote the benefits of outdoor learning and risky play with our children.
Forest schools are based on a Scandinavian model of education but there are examples of these principles being used in UK as far back as the early 1900’s when the McMillan Sisters advocted the benefits of fresh air and spending time outdoors with very young children.  Whilst the term Forest School is now a fairly common one, the actual outdoor experience, and what happens is anything but standard and varies from setting to setting, as it should, to meet the needs of the environement, the children, the staff skills and experience…….and of course in Scotland it varies from season to season or sometimes day to day as a result of the weather.
Whilst the ethos of Forest School allows for children to develop practical skills and hands on experiences in a natural environment, it is in many respects very similar to the approach our staff take in an indoor environement too.  In the outdoors though the children can be less restricted, less aware of the need to conform for example to indoor voices and walking feet, and can more readily express themselves in the wide open spaces with the sky for their roof and, light, fresh air, wind and yes rain to interact and have fun with.
In small groups children are allowed to develop new skills, grow in confidence, learn from assessing risks, overcoming hazards and making sense of their wider world.  Staff compliment the childrens learning by observing their interactions and helping them to develop new skills such as using tools, lighting fires, growing and cooking food.
Children are gently introduced to activities and tools in a supportive way, as they grow in confidence the complexity is increased to meet their abilities and to provide challange and interest.
Typical activities that children are involved in over time include tree climbing, shelter building, using tools for a purpose, nature crafts, mini-beat hunting and pond dipping as well as the ever popular camp fire building and cooking on a camp fire which is of course appropriately supervised.
Safety is a priority and childern are invovled from the outset in identifying hazards and risks, setting boudaries and establishing safety routines and procedures.  They quickly become familiar with these and enjoy sharing their understanding with visitors to the group or new children who join our settings.
For many seeing is believing, so why not come along and see for yourself?   Wrap up warm and bring a smile….the children would be delighted to see you.      In the interest of safety we ask parents to inform us in advance if they are keen to join one of our outdoor sessions, you can organise this by emailing or speaking to Kirsteen at Crawfurd Road or Ashleigh at Rodger Drive.  🙂