Over the last couple of months in Preschool and Sturt Houses we have been preparing for winter and our winter outdoor play program. We developed and implemented this for the first time last year to great success, and are eagre to start again. It’s amazing to see the incredible learning and engagement that takes place in the winter gardens; a special kind of magic happens. I’ve been reviewing all the documentation from our journey last year and it’s been brilliant to think about it all over again.
You can have a look at our story here:
As I reviewed our story, I decided to revisit the video that kind of started it all;
Unfortunately, you can no longer view the whole film, however I have very clear memories of watching it over and over last year as we developed our plan. After this version cuts out, the original film eventually documents the children’s journey as they climb to the top of quite a significant mountain.
When I watched this video for the first time, I was struck by two things. The first was the concept of “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing,” which is not the standard way of thinking in Australia. We are spoilt for good weather and tend to forget that compared many parts of the world, a winter’s day in Adelaide is quite nice! This is the idea that underpinned our planning as we developed our winter play program; no bad weather, only bad clothing.
The second was the competence of these children. In this video, we see them working with tools and building things out on the beach. The extended video shows them climbing a mountain. These children are aged between three and five years; roughly the ages of the children in Preschool and Sturt Houses. The opportunities these children have to take risks, to engage with the environment, to challenge themselves and to work together is amazing. They cook with open fires, they play outside in an Arctic winter, they carve wood with knives. And they do these things not because Norway breeds exceptional children, but because their educators and families have high expectations for their learning and believe them to be competent and capable individuals.
This is the biggest lesson from this and other forest schools like it; that children are more capable than we think. Capable of assessing taking risks. Capable of taking responsibility for their health. Capable of working together with educators and other children to achieve amazing things.
I’m all excited thinking about what might happen this year in the winter garden…