One of the exciting things we are exploring at Flinders is nature play; the idea that getting out of the everyday spaces and into the wild offers children an opportunity to take risks both physically, emotionally and cognitively. The Sturt House children recently did just that; took a risk (after an extensive risk assessment) and left the centre, heading into the wild space between the Flinders and the university.
The educators planned this experience believing that leaving the centre and entering the wild would build learning dispositions in children, such as resilience, persistence and risk management. And it is obvious these opportunities did present themselves when you look at the photographs taken during the walk. The children left the path and tackled long grass, muddy puddles and slippery hillsides, all of which required dedication, commitment and team work to overcome. Perry commented; “See, I just go straight through; nothing stops me!” demonstrating the positivity and persistence the children experienced.
The biggest challenge the children faced was getting up and down the steep hill. They shared theories with each other; walking sideways, not running, taking your time and being careful, going down on bottoms, and walking on the grass instead of the track as it had more grip. “Hey take my hand and I’ll pull you up!” one child called to the next. The children were then able to test their theories and discover which one worked best for them, then test this result on the next hillside. Science is a verb for the Flinders children!
Whilst I was thinking about the stories shared with me about the bridge walk, I kept coming back to the idea of resilience. These children were faced with challenges they had probably never been faced with before. They had to walk a long distance. They had to negotiate slippery surfaces. They had to ascend and descend steep slopes. They had to carry their own backpacks. They had to cope with an unfamiliar environment. And boy, did they rise to these challenges. The children’s enthusiasm is undeniable; they almost vibrate with energy and excitement for their journey, both through the photographs shared with me and their own accounts of the day. This is so significant; these children had the opportunity to undertake enormous learning opportunities whilst doing something they were clearly passionate about. This is the kind of learning that sticks. So next time these children are faced with a challenge, when they feel overwhelmed, there will be a voice deep inside them saying; ‘You CAN do it. You CAN.’
After all, a positive attitude is a challenge half conquered.