For many parents, our favourite childhood memories are of outdoor exploration – climbing up trees and down gullies, crawling through the bush and building cubbies. Often, it’s how we grew up.
Many of us also lament the fact that our children don’t have these opportunities – we mourn that safety concerns, perceived and real, have torpedoed these impromptu learning experiences where independence, resilience, leadership and communication skills flourish.
In response to this, and influenced by the Forest Schools’ approach used in many Scandinavian countries, the Early Childhood Centre at Minimbah Campus established their own Nature Program. Every Thursday, Minimbah’s 4-year-old ECC students spend their day at the Minimbah Creek – rain, hail or shine. ECC students engage in the same activities their mums and dads did, and the learning outcomes are remarkable.
Such has been the success of the Nature Program that Foundation (Prep), Year 1 and Year 2 classes have developed their own outdoor learning programs.
The Discovery Day programs continue developing resilience in students by encouraging them to take responsible risks and persist with challenging physical tasks. To see students take pride in their achievements, having overcome set or stumbled-upon challenges – the conquering of a tree climb, the traversing of a rock gap, the climb up a big hill – is brilliant. Leaders appear, supporting and organising fellow students. Turns are taken, problems identified, discussed, and ultimately, solved.
Social, spatial, skills in judgment – the educational benefits are many, varied and importantly, interwoven. Minimbah’s outdoor learning programs truly have something for every child.