Barefoot for optimal benefit.

With so many gorgeous little shoes out there now it’s incredibly tempting to have our children rock out a cute little pair of kicks each and every day but these gorgeous outfit additions can actually get in the way of development in toddlers and children.

Of course, there are some instances when shoes should be warn such as through city streets and on cold frosty days but by allowing children the benefit of barefoot play we can give them an optimal start to development and life. Barefoot walking, climbing and running is an important part of skeletal growth and leads to better bio-mechanics by allowing the child’s weight to be distributed evenly throughout the body. Our feet are a major contributor to the further growth and development of the skeletal system. When you think about it the healthier the feet the better they will carry your throughout life.

Feet are a wonderful tool in developing sensory input, there is nothing more satisfying that the feeling of mud rising between your toes, or the sensation on soft grass underfoot. Many children will use both their hands and feet to explore different sensations in their world.

With the weather starting to change naturally we want to keep our children’s little toes nice and snug but once again shoes can actually get in the way of optimal health. When humans walk with bare feet to the earth we actually absorb microbes that assist in our immune system, we are better connected to the earth which is directly connected to better health. It seems back to front doesn’t it, avoiding a cold (flu) actually has nothing to do with the cold. Little ones becoming snotty and sick is directly linked to their growing immune system and one of the best way to grow that immune system is to have bare feet where possible. This is not just true for children, it has been proven that adults also show health benefits when regularly barefoot.

So what are you waiting for? Kick off your shoes with your little one and head out for some major health benefits.

Miss Kyra
Nature Warrior

Sources: https://www.healthline.com/health/walking-barefoot
               
https://www.natureplayqld.org.au/the-benefits-of-being-barefoot

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The mind that develops in nature.

STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!

Steam is a part of our teaching through our Nature Play program, adding Literacy, STEAM then becomes METALS: Mathematics, Engineering, Technology, Arts, Literacy and Science.

What may look like a simple days play is actually an immersive and intense growth of a child’s mind and comprehension. A child who one day might build the future of aviation technology because he/she was fascinated by the way seeds fell and swirled through the air to the ground or a child who’s future is in environmental science and protection because the experience of observing the miracles of nature will inspire a passion to last a life time. Each experience in our program is an opportunity for individual education through play.

Exploring the world around them allows children to grow into confident and competent learners and help them feel comfortable to ask questions and create experiments to get answers. Each concept of METALS is grounded to the process not just the end product. In our natural environment our children are showing increased ability to question, observe and communicate, all fundamental parts of METALS education and pedagogy.

We don’t need big experiments and lots of equipment to practice metals, all we need to do is to be open to children’s questions and to encourage them to discover in our natural world. Our ability to give enriched care giving is a part of our practice in all we do when out in our environment. We also adopt a progettazione (Reggio, project approach) such as the gardens when we are interacting with large groups incorporating intentional teaching.

Our nature play program is run mostly through inquiry based learning incorporating METALS to help build confident and capable learners. We follow the children’s interests allowing each child the opportunity to be constructors of their own knowledge leading to active learning that extends over their early childhood education and beyond.

Miss Kyra
Nature Warrior

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Thinking of our wildlife.

The Nature Play program covers so many different areas of learning and each on is as important as the other but this month I have noticed one emerging within many children that warms my heart. Conservation and care for country is something that is vitally important to me as an educator, a mum and a person. Our children are fortunate enough to be exposed to a range of different flora and fauna within our one of a kind yards. With this comes questions about our world and a natural want to protect it. Our children are a part of some amazing learning opportunities such as our Butterfly breeding and soon our Green tree frog program.

Unfortunately, last week there was a wallaby deceased on the side of the road on the way to the kindy. This was accompanied by some very concerned and upset children but presented a teachable moment. I explained the idea of limited space for the animals with the development of areas like ours and asked the children what we could do to live alongside the animals whilst lessening the effects on their environment. After all we have built our homes in the middle of the animal’s environment.

I was nothing short of astounded at some of the responses from our little people. Such a caring way of thinking is surely the way of the future. Some of the suggestions from the children were to not build more houses or share our homes. One response that stood out to me was building environmentally friendly houses with lots of trees and grassy areas that kangaroos, and other wildlife could manoeuvre between properties like their own roads. One child even suggested a bridge just for wildlife to cross the road without getting hit by a vehicle.

Our children are the future care takers of our planet and in a world of uncertainty I hold comfort knowing it is children like these that will grow such a passion for our flora and fauna through our Nature Play program. They will question, investigate and find solutions because here at Kids World we encourage the growth of independent and passionate children.

I ask that you have a conversation with your child about what you can do as a family to protect our unique wildlife, encourage and support this love of nature and grow together.

 

Miss Kyra
Nature Warrior

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The value of mud.

I ask that you take a moment to think about your experiences with mud, to really reach back to the sensory moments that evoked the giddy kind of happiness, excitement and even hilarious disgust that mud brought to your young life. The simple pleasure of playing in the mud extends into many parts of an individual’s growth.

The great thing about mud is that it can be washed off skin, hair and clothes. What cannot be washed away is the value each child and adult gets form playing in the mud. That joy and open ended learning, of getting into squelchy, gooey, messy, beautiful mud stays with a person throughout their lives.

Mud play helps develop sensory skills, social and emotional development, language skills and even helps to build a scientific mind. Discoveries such as how far mud will splatter is not only a moment of pure fascination and joy, it can be the beginning of understanding cause and effect in a child’s world.

Mud has been scientifically proven to improve health by increasing the immune system, which is vital for young children and adults. Playing in mud is also great for exploration and connection to the world, it allows children a chance to use their imagination and to experience earthing (being connected physically to the earth). In the past year I have noticed our children seem to be more resilient and resistant to common colds and flu. I believe this is in part due to the fact our children have regular contact with mud, dirt and the surrounding environment.

This weekend I encourage you to head outside in the rainy weather and take the time to jump in the muddy puddles with your children, sit in the mud and feel the exhilaration of mud squishing through your fingers and toes. I certainly will be.

Miss Kyra
Nature Warrior

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A year past.

As 2018 comes to an end and 2019 brings promise of new beginnings and growth, I can’t help but smile with a warm sense of wonder and accomplishment. This has been our first year of my new role as “Nature Warrior” with more in-depth focus on Nature Play and building relationships with our environment. Whilst there have been considerable challenges there has also been phenomenal success.

Each and everyone of our educators have committed to embedding nature play in our service. I have witnessed educators overcome fears and challenges purely because they want the children to be confident and resilient learners. Each and every time I am overwhelmed with a sense of admiration for our educators showing their courage and commitment to the children.

The growth in the children has proven to me that Nature Play has benefits far beyond what I expected and should have a greater place in education all the way from early childhood to Tertiary education. Not only have I seen the children become more resilient, cooperative, responsive, engaged and independent I have seen their faces light up with each new discovery and the experiences within our Nature Play program.

My aim to create experiences of wonder and exploration in nature has continued to grow through input from the children, families and community. With this continued input I am excited to be a part of and watch the Nature Play program evolve throughout next year.

This year my most enjoyable moments have been being a part in a child’s wonder, not leading their play or directing them but allowing them to take me along for the journey. To become immersed in the wonder of the natural world with a child allows me the peace, happiness, accomplishment and love of life that I hold so dearly. Its about building relationships with each other and our planet and to realise our contentedness to each other.

With a new year beginning and the support of my peers we will continue to grow in the education of our students, learning from each other and from our environment.

Miss Kyra
Nature Warrior

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Unique experience.

Written by Kyra, our Nature Warrior.

Today was without a doubt a remarkable day of learning for both the children and myself. From the large gate at the bottom of the Waratah yard April pointed out something she had spotted on the bush trail.

I honestly did not expect to find what April was pointing out…A Tawny Frogmouth. I called the rest of the Waratah children to the fence line and announced that there was a bird in the bush space. I was so proud of the response of the children, whilst excited they were also very considerate. I heard lots of “SSSShhhhhh we might scare it” and “Move slow or it could fly away” coming from the group. We stood watching the bird for a few minutes and the children were working together to help others by pointing out where it was.

I explained to the children that the bird may be hurt and I would like to go and check on it. Tobias told me to be careful not to get hurt, such a wonderful caring quality he showed. I was very careful and approached the beautiful bird, wrapped it up and popped it in a large box. I called Currumbin Wildlife Hospital who sent out an animal ambulance to take the bird for a check up. Lyn and Shane the CWS volunteers asked if the children would like to take a look at the bird. Of course my response was yes, after all there aren’t many opportunities for such an amazing opportunity for learning and conversation.

The children were all very quiet and considerate of the bird. They were very concerned it may have hurt it’s wing. Addison asked if they bite and Lyn said “not often, they are very placid birds” (as she patted it on the back of the neck.).

To listen to the children talk about the bird’s features, environment and care was wonderful. They were naturally very observant and inquisitive which lead to bigger conversations with their peers.

What an amazing property we have with such an array of wildlife and what a spectacular group of children who showed their greatness in so many ways today.

Miss Kyra
Nature Warrior

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Belonging and the butterfly garden.

Today I enjoyed some one on one learning with David in the butterfly garden. David has shown great interest in the butterfly garden so when we were fortunate enough to receive a Richmond Bird wing Butterfly Vine from The River Keepers I decided this would be a great opportunity for one of our newest arrivals to make his mark on our butterfly garden. David was enthusiastic and happily joined me in digging a hole and even reminded me to be careful where I put my feet so I didn't squash any caterpillars. We chatted as we were getting the garden ready and when a prospective parent walked through while touring our yards David excitedly told her and Miss Jenny all about the vine and the butterflies we are trying to attract to our garden. 

The butterfly garden is a simple project that has great value, children and adults love to stop and have a look at the Monarch caterpillars and count how many we have from week to week. By planting our new addition with David I hope to help him have a greater sense of belonging, become more aware of his ability to help his environment and develop a life long love of learning. 

I would also like to acknowledge the River Keepers of Country Paradise Parklands for kindly giving us the vine to add to our butterfly gardens, it is community connections like these that have helped our Nature Play program grow and continue to evolve. 

Miss Kyra
Nature Warrior

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Kangaroo encounters

Written by Kyra, our Nature Warrior

 

This morning I headed down to the shed to start my daily routine of keeping our yards looking beautiful. I like to take a moment each morning to take a deep breath while looking over our back paddock to ground myself and appreciate the unique environment we have. This morning I was greeted by one of our Muni (Yugambeh word for kangaroo) , he was enjoying the fresh grass our back paddock offers. 

When I completed my yard work I went into the Wombats room and asked the children if they would like to come and see the Kangaroo in the paddock. The children were excited and quickly got their hats and headed for the door. We walked down to the bottom of the hill to find the Kangaroo lying down in the shade of the trees. All the wombat children sat down and watched the Kangaroo as he relaxed and scratched his belly. The children showed me how they could scratch their bellies too. I explained to the children that the Yugambeh name for Kangaroo is Muni. After a short while the Muni got up and hopped away. It was lovely to see the children excited by how quickly he could move. The children hopped and laughed as we came back up the hill. 

This is one of the many magical moments our children share with the Muni who visit our property. How lucky we are here at Kids World to have such a unique and beautiful environment.

Miss Kyra
Nature Warrior

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Nature Warrior Beginnings

Written by Kyra, our Nature Warrior

Welcome to the Nature Warrior Blog, a place where you can read about the amazing experiences the children at Kids World Gilston get to have in their day to day learning. Firstly let me introduce myself, my name is  Kyra, and I am the one and only Nature Warrior. I am so fortunate to be working here at Kids World and have been given the privilege of becoming the Nature Warrior. My position came about when the owner and directors of my service recognised my passion for teaching in the great outdoors, they saw my qualities of greatness and worked with me to create this amazing role.    

My aim Is to create a positive natural environment in which the children can continue to expand on their learning and play. Allowing the children the benefits of nature play such as social, emotional, and cognitive development. To give the children access to opportunities in nature that help them learn resilience and allow their own creativity to flow freely. Our yards have trees to climb, a mud pit, rocks to hop on and over, gardens for the children to tend, compost bins, worm farms, bush land, a visiting mob of kangaroos from time to time and we even have three beautiful Silkie chickens.

The Nature Play journey is one I look forward to sharing with the children and our wider community.