Many local families are fortunate enough to find themselves spending a lot of time outdoors. It’s natural and children seem to crave it. Unfortunately, of the time children spend outdoors, much of it is these days is dedicated to council built playgrounds. This is of course much better than staying indoors but these environments do not easily lend themselves to children creating a sense of place within them. We are so incredibly lucky to have a wide and varied landscape to choose from – next time you head outdoors, why not try one of our open beaches, headlands, rainforests, wetlands, lakes or rivers? We really have it all. I personally love variety; I love having the option to head up the mountain, or seek out a freshwater source or brave the waves of the ocean, or my favourite, scouring the rock pools when the tide falls. But one thing I have come to appreciate is the need for children to have access to the SAME wild space on a regular basis.
Currently at Wildlings we are meeting the changing of the seasons as autumn creeps slowly into our version of winter. The allure for our Wildlings to play and splash by the banks of the creek is fading, and now they are slowly branching out to explore the dry creek beds, gullies and trees of the forest.
The benefits of visiting the same wild space over and over again has many benefits to children:
- Refining their skills of observation. Each week we ask our Wildlings to take time to observe their surroundings and to notice any changes that have occurred since our last visit. They are extremely perceptive and will notice and provide explanations for the changes they observe. This provides excellent opportunities for learning about the seasons, life-cycles, weather patterns and our local flora and fauna.
- Enhance their love of the space. The more they explore the space the more we learn about what live there. We have found frogs, water dragons, snakes, insects, eels and birds all of which have captivated the minds of the children and the adults. We learn about these animals through observation and interaction and these interactions take time to happen.
- Risk management: as leaders we are able to minimise potential risks for our children as we ourselves have spent so much time in the Wildlings Forest. We can see potential dangers if and when they emerge over time and adjust our activities in response.
We are a community. Our children know what to expect, they know our rhythm and they are also pioneers of our space. They have freedom here, they have responsibility, they have a sense of place and they all weave together to create a space that we cherish and love. Because we all belong.