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Imaginations Preschool And Early Learning Centre's July Newsletter

July 2020

July 2020

Greetings

Hello everyone, welcome to our July newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community.
This month we’re looking into forest and bush schools. What are they? Why are they gaining popularity across the world? In what ways are children benefiting from an outdoor education?

Send us an email to let us know what you think of this newsletter. We would love to hear any suggestions, which articles you enjoyed, and what you would like to see more of!

But first up this month…

Topic of the month - Forest and bush schools… Building independent, confident and resilient children!

Author: Brooke James

Have you heard of a forest school?

 

Popular for decades in countries like Denmark, Romania and Norway, the forest school concept is that of getting an education (usually preschool or primary years, but not limited to the early years), whilst outdoors, amongst nature. Believed to have been inspired by the Scandinavian principles of “friluftsliv” ( meaning ‘open air life’), the belief of forest school operators is that there’s no bad weather… just inappropriate clothing! The idea of stepping into the wilderness… children take lessons outdoors, operate tools, build fires, eat outdoors, take part in as much self-led, free-play as they wish, and nap outdoors. Rugging up even in cooler weather and enjoying an abundance of fresh air, space, freedom, and all of the learning experiences on offer in the natural world.

Australia is slowly catching on to the concept of outdoor learning. Some early learning services have started small, by offering rest time outdoors. Locating a shady place for the children to enjoy some quiet time amongst bird song and serenity. Others are offering full bush schools or forest kindy programs.

The concept of a bush school (Australia’s equivalent of the forest schools in other countries) is still fairly new here in Australia, but it’s definitely gaining traction. Educators have seen the benefits. Calmer, happier, less anxious children. Children who are self-reliant and thrive when the pressure of a scheduled curriculum is removed and child-led learning is encouraged. Where a child’s natural curiosity leads to exploration, questions and a passion for knowledge. According to Educators and parents alike, children are excelling well beyond the planned curriculum - retaining vocabulary and concepts beyond their years and making social advancements that are astounding their families.

Children are capable, resourceful beings that will often surprise us. Wildlings Forest school (based out of Queensland) offers the below learning opportunities as part of their forest kindy curriculum:

How to start, manage and cook on fires

How to use hand tools such as hammers, bow saws, hand drills and whittling knives

How to tie knots and lashings to build cubbies and shelters

Flora and fauna identification

Making primitive weapons from local weed species

Seasons and weather patterns

Environment and water conservation

Building and floating rafts

While a number of these things may seem shocking to parents when considering their own child, it’s worth noting that young children have been efficiently managing these tasks in forest schools across the globe for decades! The women that established Wildlings Forest School have an Australian Podcast, “Raising Wildlings”, which is thoroughly interesting, thought-provoking and worthy of a listen if you’d like a better understanding of why their school operates the way it does, and why they believe these tasks are a beneficial learning opportunity for children. https://www.wildlingsforestschool.com/raisingwildlings

Outdoor education and child-led play have been proven to support emotional, behavioural and intellectual development. Studies have shown that students who learn outdoors develop: a sense of self, independence, confidence, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving skills. As well as empathy towards others, motor skills, self-discipline and initiative. Children have the opportunity to learn at their own pace and independence is greatly encouraged.

Author, scientist and childhood development expert, Peter Gray did extensive research into the importance of free-play (and how we need to stop dismissing play as trivial) after his young son began struggling in the mainstream schooling system. He set out to find an alternative solution and when he couldn’t convince any universities or reputable research establishments to conduct the research, he did the research himself. The results were incredible. The children he followed-up had managed to develop into adults with significant, meaningful careers across a broad spectrum of industries. Those that chose to go to university did. Their non-traditional childhood education didn’t negatively impact their life choices, in fact, there were serious benefits.

Gray’s book “Free to Learn” (https://tinyurl.com/yb5ez5et ) addresses what he believes the primary concepts of play are, and why important life lessons are learned through play, and deeply ingrained in children educated in this non-traditional way. In a nutshell, these concepts include:

The idea that play should be a freely chosen and self-directed activity. This is linked to developing initiative - choosing the game, learning to negotiate the rules of the game.

True play includes the option to quit at any time. A powerful learning experience for children who quickly learn to interact with their peers - sharing and negotiating appropriately - or be left playing on their own because everyone else will have quit.

Play should be intrinsically motivated. Playing purely for the love and enjoyment of play - not because of what prizes or rewards are on offer. Allowing children to discover their own strengths and passions, and therefore flowing into adulthood and finding a career based around these same strengths and passions.

All play is structured - not by adults, but by children themselves. Allowing children to learn to follow rules that they’ve set themselves. A valuable exercise in restraint, control and in acquiring self-discipline.

Even amongst a framework of rules (spoken or non-spoken), play always has room for creativity and imagination. Imaginative play allows children to engage in the practice of hypothetical thinking and logical reasoning (“imagine the floor is lava”. “Well we won’t step on the lava or we’ll be burnt!”).

In many areas across Australia, we’re seeing a return to this style of free-play experience, in the form of local parks and recreational spaces for children. Disappearing is the bright, artificial, plastic, instead, we’re welcoming back more natural spaces. Sydney’s Centennial Park opened the Ian Potter Wild Play garden ( https://www.centennialparklands.com.au/wildplay ) in recent years. It’s nothing short of magical! Timber, grasses, trees, stones and other natural materials were used to create a space worthy of any child’s imagination. There are risky play elements, creek beds, mazes, water play and opportunities for climbing and balancing…. as an adult you genuinely wish you were a child again when you enter this space! 

Regional Australia is following this nature trend too, with incredible play spaces of similar design popping up everywhere (Orange and Dubbo in regional NSW are two that immediately come to mind). All we need to do as parents is sit well back, and allow our children to play! Ensure they’re safe, yes, but quietly, from a distance. 

If the idea of forest or bush schooling is something that intrigues you. Do a little investigation. For all you know, there could be a bush playgroup operating in a suburb nearby, ready to welcome your family! If not, search out parks, local nature walks, or create a similar space for your child to explore at home. You may find that some logs, pine cones and pebbles ignite something in your child you weren’t expecting!

Links of Interest:

https://www.centennialparklands.com.au/Learn/Nature-Play/Bush-School-programs

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-02/the-nature-school-primary-pioneers-outdoor-bush-education/10697332

https://www.maggiedent.com/blog/best-playnature-based-schools-early-years-centres-in-other-states/

https://www.facebook.com/forestschoolromania

https://www.instagram.com/forestschoolseducation/

Childcare development

0-12 month development

Parenting an early walker

Author: Catherine Rodie

Although most children start walking after their first birthday, early walkers can be found taking their first steps as early as 10 months old. 

Watching your little ones take their first wobbly steps is a proud moment for any parent, and creates memories parents hold dear forever. However, your child’s success brings a new reality.

You are now the parent of a walker, and life will never be the same again. Although your child is now able to move around on his/her own steam, a sense of danger is still to come. Turn your back for a second and you may find your child running on top of your dining room table.

 

Refer to the original article for advice on how to deal with early walkers. 

1-2 year development

Handling 'teeth grinding' in babies and toddlers

Author: Rohit Garoo

Although waking up to your children grinding their teeth can be scary, it is relatively common. Some children even grind their teeth during the day, although this less frequently.

Causes of teeth grinding include teething pain, ear infections, sleep apnea, a tonsil infection and even ADHD. And despite the frequency of teeth grinding, the habit can result in long term issues.

The habit must, therefore, be managed carefully. While stress management techniques and physiotherapy can help children refrain from grinding their teeth, doctors may also prescribe mouth guards or even dental correction

Refer to the full article to understand the complexities of teeth grinding.

2-3 year development

At what age should your child drop their afternoon nap?

Author: Louisa Fitzgerald

Better Health Victoria recommends that children take daytime naps until around the age of three years old, even though some children manage without them after just 18 months.

They explain that, excluding daytime naps, toddlers should get between 10 and 12 hours of sleep each day. While some children have no problems sleeping, other parents struggle to set their children down for daytime naps or to sleep at night.

Other tips include timing your children’s’ naps well, between 1 pm and 3 pm, and not letting them nap for longer than 1.5 - 2 hours. Naps that last longer than this or occur later in the day may prevent your child from sleeping well at night.

Read on to learn about the complexities of toddlers’ naps.

3-4 year development

Signs your child is ready for kindy

Author: Shannon Clark

In today’s globally competitive environment, some parents are doing anything and everything to give their children an advantage. For some, this means trying to get their children into kindy as early as possible, in an attempt to fast-track their learning and development.

However, this is not always a good idea and can, in some circumstances, do more harm than good. Ultimately, it is up to you and your chosen kindy to decide if your children are ready to start their educational journeys.

Besides using your children’s’ actual age to decide if they are ready for kindy, you can examine the way they ask questions about the world and interact with various objects and people. 

Continue reading to understand how to evaluate your children’s’ readiness for kindy.

4-5 year development

Ease your child back into school mode after the holidays

Author: Christine Grové 

Most children in Australia have just gone back to school. While some will welcome this return to normality, other children may find it rather difficult. Many children experience fear and anxiety when returning to school after a long break.

While older children have a range of issues to worry about including performance pressure, those still attending kindy report anxiety associated with separating from their caregiver as well as a fear of being left out. 

Parents can help their children deal with these fears and anxiety by implementing a predictable back-to-school routine, talking about the return to school, encouraging involvement at school, actively looking for signs of stress and encouraging questions.

Refer to the original article to understand how you can make the return to school a little easier.

Development of boys

The Advantages of Single-Sex Classrooms for Boys

Author: Amanda Morin

Single-sex and coed schools each provide unique advantages for boys. While coed schools are fantastic for boys who feel anxious speaking to girls, single-sex schools provide different advantages.

A single-sex boys school is tailored to the ways boys learn. Your son is likely to be exposed to more visual aids which boys tend to absorb easily. Alternatively, a coed school may rely on language in the classroom, which can often be problematic for boys.

Just remember that not all boys are the same. Your son may be better suited to a coed school that uses a more rounded approach.

The complete article explains how boys can potentially benefit from single-sex schools.

Development of girls

Why girls often mature faster than boys

Author: Christopher Bergland

It has long been said that girls mature faster than boys. Teachers, in particular, notice this in their classes, explaining how boys seem to lag behind their female counterparts in terms of maturity.

Although this does not affect academic performance, it means that young girls and boys of the same age often behave very differently. 

Scientists now believe that the reason for this is brain connections generally become streamlined earlier in girls than in boys. As children grow, their neural pathways are strengthened, however, this seems to happen more rapidly for girls.

Refer to the original article for a greater understanding of how girls mature faster.

Craft Corner: Special Sports Fun 

Blow painting with straws

Use straws and the power of your own breath to create a colourful painting. Although this messy craft may require a fair amount of cleaning, children love getting their hands dirty. Just remember to warn your children not to inhale the paint. Only blowing is permitted!

Read on for further instructions

Brighten Someone’s Day With Kindness Rocks

Paint rocks with beautiful bright colours and awfully kind messages! This craft brings out creativity and shows children the power of a kind gesture. Help your child figure out who they want to give the rock to and what they want to say before getting stuck in.

 

Detailed instructions provided here

Make beaded keychain crafts with your kids

Create a functional piece of art you can carry with you or attach to your children’s’ school bags. With a number of options, this cute keyring craft is suitable for all ages. You may even enjoy undertaking some of the more complex keyring crafts yourself.

Follow the steps to create your very own beaded keyrings.

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