Announcing Our New Outdoor Education Programme in Wicklow!
Exciting news – we’re expanding our ‘Nature Kindergarten’ education!
Back in 2014 we opened Ireland’s first ‘Nature Kindergarten’ in Killruddery Estate in Bray. Today we are proud to announce the expansion our outdoor education concept to our other Wicklow centres, in Greystones and Southern Cross Road in Bray.
At the Nature Kindergarten the outdoors are the ‘classroom’ where children quickly foster confidence through real world skills. Days at Nature Kindergarten are spent building dens, topping up the bird houses with food and climbing trees, as the children explore their environment as well as their own capabilities. Through this exploration the children develop necessary life skills and real-world learning including counting, rhyme, estimation, measuring, sorting and so much more.
We are looking forward to welcoming more children across Wicklow to our childcare centres and we’re excited about how much they will benefit from the advantages of our unique outdoor education approach.
Last month we saw many of our Nature Kindergarten ‘graduates’ starting Primary School and we are heartened to learn that they are settling in well to their new surroundings. Local primary school teachers and parents have reported clear benefits in the life skills learned in this unique, outdoor environment and find children from the Nature Kindergarten integrate very well into their new schools. This is music to our ears!
Benefits of Outdoor Education
Over the past number of years, we’ve noticed a number of unique benefits for children who are spending time outdoors. Teamwork, problem-solving, confidence, conflict resolution, improved physical strength and balance are just some of skills and strengths that are developed in such an environment. These skills prove hugely beneficial for children when they start Primary School and give them a great foundation for future learning.
By running on uneven groundland, swinging and climbing trees the children are developing the links between their muscles, joints and their brains. Ultimately this is helping them prepare for school, laying the foundations of posture, balance and the abilities to learn reading and writing.
I’m sure like us; you have seen reports in the news on the developing obesity problem in Europe. We’ve also been concerned about some recent reports on kindergarteners’ screen-time; spending an average of 2.2 hours on devises each day. We aim to ensure that children have lots of outside playtime. Spending so much time outdoors also means very healthy children with fewer coughs and colds as their immunity is strengthened.
Dedicated Outdoor Educator
Our outdoor education programme is available at both childcare centres in Bray and Greystones and we are delighted to welcome our new dedicated ‘Outdoor Educator’ Eoghan O’Shaughnessy, who is based at our OWL area in Bray.
Under this new outdoor education programme, children from the age of two are involved in fun and educational outdoor activities such as bug hunting or exploring natural materials. The older ones enjoy learning survival skills, bird identification and tending to their vegetable plot…as well as tasting their produce! No matter what the age group, the whole team ensure that everyone is involved.
It’s fantastic to watch the children running around and playing in the outdoor area. We’ve loved the children’s’ reaction to the new sand and gravel pits, mud kitchens, water stations and vegetable patch and with the new term starting we’re excited to watch the children develop in the this all natural environment.
We really wanted to make Nature Kindergarten accessible to school-going children as well, so we have recently developed our after-school area and are providing a collection service from local schools. Some of the children who previously attended for preschool have returned for our after-school programme this September and it’s great that they can maintain their connection with the forest in this way. The older children are able to carry on developing skills such as bark whittling and wood chopping and can continue to reap all the benefits that the Nature Kindergarten environment presents. This can be particularly valuable for them after a long day of study, as it allows them to move, stretch, run and generally engage their bodies. It also gives children the opportunity to switch off and to explore their interests freely in the fresh air.
For more information on our Nature Kindergarten click here.
To make an enquiry about our Bray or Greystones centres click here.