Following children’s interests
Schools are under growing pressure to formalise early years in order to make children school ready. As a result, there is an over-focus in many schools on reading, writing and maths, along with a perception that teaching the above can only take place inside.
Many learning opportunities are missed by working in this way, as playing outdoors is cross-curricular, supports higher levels of involvement and develops the characteristics of effective learning. A good example of this happened during a trip to the common recently with two of my grandchildren…one in reception and one in year 5. Both love being outdoors and are more than happy to find resources to enhance their play when they are out and about.
Is it worth the risk?
I have been working with a school, in Kingston, recently who have decided to start using real tools such as hammers, with the children. They have some concerns around this, one of them being how to introduce this to parents given the fact that some have already complained about children being outside when it is cold!
I have always ensured that risk-taking was addressed at all new parent meetings, particularly when showing prospective parents around the school! Forewarned is forearmed as they say! During the tour of the school, I would point out children using real tools, show them how safely and sensibly they were using them and explain how they were introduced but, more importantly, I would explain the benefits. The reasons why children needed these opportunities.