Play the Arana Hills way
· At Arana Hills we encourage our families and children to form connections with the natural world and environment that surrounds our Kindergarten.
· At every opportunity we venture to the Kedron Brook creek and surrounding bush, a short walking distance from our service.
· Through play based child centred and adult scaffolded learning experiences we learn about and to care for the local flora and fauna, inspiring a deep sense of understanding of this natural environment.
Address: 135 Olearia Street West, Everton Hills QLD 4053
Connecting with our local environment and exploring the Kedron Brook creek.
Since 2010 we have been visiting this special place, a short 5 minute walk from our Kindy. Most of the children in our service have a connection to it - whether they live beside it, have visited it in the past or explore it more now due to our regular interactions.
Each year, with a different cohort of children, considerations and informed decisions are made to ensure that our interactions and connections with the creek continue in a safe though balanced way -with every child’s need to be challenged and take risks in their learning journey.
As a Forest School Leader and as early childhood educators our role in these experiences is to facilitate transformative leadership - to connect, inspire and empower all participants to create a shared vision for our interactions with the creek environment (Brown and Prosner,2001 cited in Elliot, 2014, p50.).
Over time we have gained many and varied skills to safely and enthusiastically introduce children and their families to this benefit risk experience.
Often in term 1 the local creek is flooded due to seasonal rains so we are usually observing from the bank, intentionally teaching or modeling behaviors, scaffolding their learning using our magnifying glasses and reference books. Ratio 1 adult to 4 children.
In 2nd term we identify areas on the river bank where we can directly and safely interact. Relationships formed with the children and families make us more aware of their individual needs and abilities. It is at this time that we introduce a range of experiences which give the children more freedom to explore independently such as collecting nature items in certain areas, practicing how to skim rocks across the water or identifying an insect using the reference books. We usually ask the parents to step back and give their children the chance to explore with minimal intervention - if they feel comfortable.
By term 3 we usually have very independent and capable children who are usually able to assess and manage their own risk when interacting in this well known space. We also find that the parents have built a sense of trust in our abilities to safely engage the children and we reduce the ratio to 1adult to 5 children.
By term 4 the children’s interactions are knowledgeable and empowered with a deep sense of understanding of this natural environment.