Outdoor learning at it’s best!
I came across an amazing film clip on Facebook recently of the first nursery in the UK, that operates completely outdoors.
Dandelion Education received outstanding in all areas by Ofsted and won Nursery World’s, Nursery of the Year award in 2017.
Led by two qualified teachers, the Norfolk nursery caters for children aged 2-8 years during both term time and holidays. They have combined Philosophy for Children and Forest School to create a holistic approach to learning that centres on the child.
Not only is it wonderful to see children learning outside all day it is also great to see the children in the clip, working independently and safely, with real tools. I have always advocated the benefits of using real tools and did this every year with the children I taught in Reception. Once they knew how to use them safely then there were very few accidents and no one ever lost a finger! Using real tools enables very high levels of involvement and supports children in developing perseverance, as they learn to master them.
A little boy I taught many years ago, once spent a whole day making a large ladder. This was no mean feat, as he was a child who struggled with his physicality and spatial awareness and often bumped into and sometimes, sat on other children when coming to the carpet! He needed some input at different points throughout the day when his little arm became tired of sawing, but he persevered returning to complete his project after lunch. He learnt how to use the claw end of a hammer to retract a nail and how to measure the length of the wood before cutting. The sense of pride and achievement that he felt at the completion of his project is something that will stay with me always.
Whilst there are few schools that can provide the opportunities afforded to the children at Dandelion nursery, teachers can take some of their ideas and adapt them to their own settings whatever their outside area looks like. Why don’t you try introducing this in your setting? The benefits far outweigh the risks!