Being more active, focussed and challenged are just some of the many impacts that kindergarten children are enjoying in their new weekly outdoor classroom at Windermere’s Early Learning Centre in Frankston.
The Windermere ELC introduced the once a week, outdoor classroom format in May and both adults and children are noticing the many benefits.
The children, aged 4 – 5 years old, walk from their classroom to George Pentland Botanic Park, for a three and a half hour long session once a week.
“The children very much look forward to their outside classroom days. We have some children with special needs who can be highly anxious in a more structured classroom environment. We are finding on our Nature and Learn days they are happy and relaxed with no tears,” says Kathryn Rothaker, Early Childhood Teacher.
The outdoor classroom setting also allows the children to connect with nature, themselves and their community. The children have the opportunity to explore what is in their “own backyard” just around the corner from their kindergarten. They also interact with the community on their outings. Basic life skills, such as road safety and staying together as a group, are also reinforced and expanded on. Additionally, parents report that their children appear to be happier and more relaxed on the days they attend the Nature and Learn sessions.
The sessions use play based learning for the children to explore and experience their environment and develop new skills. “At the moment the tree climbing is very popular. This controlled risk taking allows the children to explore what their capabilities are and at the same time increase their confidence, and develop other skills such as problem solving and resilience,” says Kathryn.
The different setting also allows for new learning opportunities. Children’s vocabulary and verbal literacy is expanding because there is new content to discuss. The outdoor space is also very engaging and exciting for many children and fosters creative and imaginative play.
Windermere takes an integrated learning approach to the Nature and Play sessions. For example, back in the kindergarten, in the days leading up to their outdoor classroom setting, the children assist with the preparation for the day. This has included classroom discussions and preparing nutritious picnic meals such as meat and vegetable pies.
“Many of our children have limited opportunity to enjoy being outdoors at home. We hope these childhood classroom experiences will contribute to a lifelong love of the outdoors and being active. The children are currently really enjoying the challenges to both their minds and bodies of getting active in a new, natural and unstructured environment,” says Kathryn.
Located at Windermere’s Early Learning Centre in Frankston, the sessional 4 year old funded Kindergarten offers a structured learning program run in a convenient long day care setting.
If you are looking for a high quality 4 year old funded kindergarten program and need the convenience of a Long Day Care Centre speak to Windermere today.