"Curiosity is a delicate little plant, which aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.' Albert Einstein
Notes about our philosophy, practices and values
1) Safety and healthy risk:
"A child who has always been allowed to move freely develops not only an agile body but also good judgment about what he can and cannot do." (Magda Gerber)
It is a wonderful sight to witness children testing their physical capabilities and setting their own challenges. A child who wants to climb up onto a log can be boosted up by an eager adult or supported to try on their own and offered just enough help, if needed. They can be steadied by strong adult arms or spotted closely. The latter options allows children to experience their capabilities and limitations, to problem-solve, to wobble, find their footing and feel confidence. It is also much safer, as children who aren't helped/boosted/steadied beyond their capabilities will only do those things in their own good time, when they are ready to do them unaided. Check out these excellent 'Nature Play Guidelines.'
Adults working or volunteering with Creston Kids Outside will perform site and activity risk assessments, taking into consideration potential hazards and ways to minimize risk. There is a growing body of research supporting the idea that children benefit from opportunities for healthy risk-taking. At Creston Kids Outside programs, healthy risk-taking might look like running, jumping, climbing hills, stepping in small creeks, balancing on logs, sliding, playing with sticks and rocks and experiencing a variety of weather conditions. We will always be undertaking dynamic risk assessment, adapting our activities for changing weather and children's abilities, and including the children in the discussions about safety.
2) We will strive for a 'positive discipline' approach, which:
* Is Kind and Firm at the same time. (Respectful and encouraging) * Helps children feel a sense of Belonging and Significance. (Connection) * Is Effective Long-Term. (Punishment works short term, but has negative long-term results.) * Teaches valuable Social and Life Skills for good character. (Respect, concern for others, problem-solving, accountability, contribution, cooperation) * Invites children to discover how Capable they are and to use their personal power in constructive ways. (Borrowed from: Positive Discipline)
3) Approach to conflict:
During Creston Kids Outside programs, adults will support children to work through their conflicts through problem-solving. Before jumping in to 'fix' a problem, adults will stay nearby to observe what kind of help the children might need. Ideally, we will watch and wait to see if children can come to their own solution. If they need more help, we can respectfully offer ideas, separate children from each other if needed, and help redirect to a new activity.
The following quotes are borrowed from, 'Forest and Nature School in Canada: A Head, Heart, Hands Approach to Outdoor Learning."
4) How kids learn in the outdoors:
"Children are born with an innate desire to explore and experience everything that surrounds them, to ask questions of these experiences, and to learn by doing. When these processes are supported, through further investigation and inquiry by a significant adult in their life, the results can be far-reaching. Most importantly, Forest and Nature School models to children and youth that learning can be fun, can feel like an adventure, and can lead to a lifelong passion for learning."
5) The adult's role in a Forest School setting:
"Sparking Engagement: By modeling enthusiasm for nature play, the educator encourages children who might be nervous or new to outdoor play. Forest and Nature School educators act as a creative spark for the group, encouraging the growth of new ideas by making available to the children materials, resources, and experiences that expand their creative, imaginative, and exploratory play. An educator might bring a personal story that sends the children off into stories of their own or ask a question that encourages the children to look more deeply into something that they have found.
Observing: Once the children are engaged in exploration, the educator steps back to give the children space to play and explore. This is an opportunity to become an observer, watching the children’s interactions with each other and the site, collecting and documenting these experiences, and using this knowledge to enhance future outdoor learning.
Learning Alongside Children: The educator gets dirty, explores, creates, builds, learns, gains knowledge, celebrates alongside the children they work with.
Creating Connections: The educator works to create community with the children, the parents, the place, and the community at large and works with the children to help them through conflicts and discussions that arise."