Early Learning Outdoors
Getting Outdoors Brings a Host of Benefits in Early Learning.
Heading outdoors is not only a literal breath of fresh air, it also provides a multitude of benefits to children in their early years. From exploring scientific concepts through the changing of the seasons, to pushing themselves physically through running, jumping and climbing, to letting their imaginations run wild through dramatic play, getting out and about should be a part of every child’s day.
A growing number of childcare centres are emphasising the importance of the outdoors in their curriculums – Guardian Early Learning Group is one that’s leading the charge. They are firm believers that children’s curiosity is ignited by their environments so to complement this thinking, Guardian’s centres engage in regular “Out and About” programs as well as place a strong emphasis on the design of their centres’ external environments.
River Garden’s outdoor space consists of a massive rooftop garden, which comes as a surprise to many families, considering the centre is located right in the heart of the city. The huge L-shaped area boasts vegetable patches that grow corn, tomatoes, strawberries and more (with varying levels of success!) which children are encouraged to care for, a water feature perfect for cooling down on hot days, grassy knolls and climbing areas and even an outdoor invention centre for drawing, construction and building. Centre Manager Carla Atkin says, “It really is a place children can use their imaginations.”
River Garden isn’t the only one embracing the outdoor environment to enhance development and learning in the years. Guardian Mulgrave and Richmond’s space extends on the learnings of children through the custom-designed outdoor environments. Treehouses, dry river creek beds, sand pits and forts, as well as big log steps and rocks, encourage risky play, physical development and fosters relationships between different age groups. Without realising, children are learning so much from these outdoor interactions.
Excursion programs are a part of everyday life at Guardian centres, including 101 Collins Street and River Garden. Providing children with learning environments and experiences outside the centre helps develop a sense of identity and belonging while engaging their curiosity and wonder. Whether they are exploring maths through “paying” for their babyccinos with money they’ve made themselves, to seeing the inner workings of the library, excursions build valuable relationships and help children become active participants in the community as well as a broader understanding of the world around them.
River Garden’s Educational Leader, Claire de Crespigny says, “The location of our centre means that South Yarra is our garden. We have developed an ‘Out and About’ program and plan on regularly visiting the Botanical Gardens, Como Park, the Prahran Market, the South Yarra Library and Rockley Gardens. Our focus is the sense of belonging to our local community.”
The learnings don’t stop as soon as they return to the centre either. From these excursions, the observations and experiences of the children are documented and used by the educators to prompt discussion and learning opportunities which can then be followed up and explored for as long as the child is interested.
So when looking for an early learning centre, be sure to ask about their excursion programs and check out their outdoor environments because there are so many learning opportunities to be had for children when they step outside the four walls of the centre.
To explore these early learning centres in Melbourne for yourself including the brand new Guardian Laurimar (opening February 26), head to guardian.edu.au and book a tour with our friendly team.