Since I have started with Karana early education centre this year, I have been on two outings “over the fence” (as it has become affectionately known by the children) and have observed how children love these and how learning occurs naturally. From simply observing fauna and flora around them, learning about nature by experiencing it in different seasons, observing the colours of the grass and trees, to more advanced life skills like how to navigate their way through somewhat unfamiliar area at the beginning and exploring their community. They also learn how different clothing is required for different environments, what is safe under one environment may not be adequate in a different setting. This further encourages flexibility in thinking.
These walks are really enjoyable in autumn and winter as children get to soak in the warm sun just by being out in the open. Though educators are always present, however, children do take the lead in these experiences choosing where they stay longer, what areas interest them and so on, leading to a sense of ownership in their beings and play. These outings also allow an opportunity for children to assess the risk themselves and educators to stand back and observe. On our last outing, children chose to walk on the rocks and go under the bush, which was an uneven terrain compare to the regular terrain they walk at the centre. So, they learn to tap the differences within the geography of their environment.
The other thing, which I felt amongst children, was the sense of freedom as soon as they were “over the fence”. Though it is heavily encouraged within the centre as well by allowing them to move freely and choose the room of their liking for most of the day, however this is experienced totally differently outside. Boundaries are negotiated on the spot with children at the centre stage.
Children and educators also become co-creators of their knowledge and learning outside, as sometimes educators’ see/explore the new things for the first time in the environment, as has been my experience in the past outing.
Mina Kular, Early Childhood Teacher – Karana