As mentioned in a previous post, toddlers need to move in order to learn. What better place to move than outside in a garden.
Toddlers, as a matter of fact all children, need a garden that is not just something to look at. They need a garden that is not just a landscaped environment but a source of experience and activity that truly is a child’s space.
A space for the children to be in, on and with the earth, to nurture their innate sense of awe and wonder and to celebrate life.
A beautiful tended garden doesn't just nurture flowers, it also nurtures hearts!
- In the garden they can harvest fruits and vegetables to be shared at kai time.
- In the garden they can pick flowers for beautifying the dining area.
- In the garden they can watch the intricacies of the birds and the insects and be mesmerised by the miracles of nature.
- In the garden they can lug around blankets, planks, and all those loose parts your centre has plenty of.
- In the garden they can engage their heads, hands and hearts in the creation of their play.
- In the garden they can be fully involved in the physical work of collecting, transporting, setting up, and building.
- In the garden they can follow their urges.
- In the garden they can move - jump, run, squat, skip, climb, hop, crawl...
- In the garden they can make memories through natural experiences that don't cost a cent but fill the emotional heart account to the top.
Do we need any more reasons why we need a garden?
The best play memories are those that are deeply embedded with Nature.
Some of the best memories children have are those that involve being outdoors. It is this relationship with the natural world that must be nurtured in those early years for it to become a foundation for life. If we work with natures plan then our environments, programmes and equipment will reflect the child's biology.
As much as the inside space needs HOME-I-FYING, your outside space needs GARDEN-I-FYING.
Children have a natural affinity for finding joy in the every day wonders of nature. What we may think of as ordinary is actually extraordinary to them. Children notice so much in their surroundings when given time and the freedom to do so.
In the garden, the beautiful flowers are calling to the children, whispering, “come closer, come and really see me”. Just seeing is never enough for a child - they smell, feel, get as close as they can, so they can truly appreciate nature in all it’s glory!
A child’s sense of wonder and curiosity are more keenly piqued from their own explorations and questions than from being shown where and what to look at by adults.
Our role is to pause
We need to trust their curiosity. We need to trust that they are capable of following their own impulses and inclinations. To do so our toddlers need an outdoor, natural environment where they can play uninterrupted.
Our role is to share what the children created and ALL the play benefits they gained from the long periods of rich uninterrupted play. It is in the sacred bubble of play where children roam that they can encounter bliss and magic. We all know the power of playing in and with nature for unlimited time with no interruption.
Our role is to ensure we have the environment right. A feast for PLAY and then allow our toddlers the time and space to potter and tinker about.
Adult teacher-led agendas can interrupt the flow of children discovering and finding intrinsic satisfaction in their discoveries. Out in nature, we must take our lead from the child. They need to make their own discoveries, and their own decisions about what is extraordinary. We can observe, share in the joy, and give our attention, but we don't set the agenda. Rather, if we open up to the child’s wonder at nature’s miracles, it will rekindle our own and helps us see the world through their eyes! Natures nurtures all of us!