As part of the 2011 Early Childhood Education Conference, Barbara Champion (Executive Director of Play Australia) will lead a conversation with early childhood experts on outdoor play. Children today are spending more time indoors than ever before, and we must adopt strategies to encourage children and families to be outdoors in the natural environment, particularly in early years services. But what are the risks, and how important is it to provide risk taking opportunities for young children?
The importance of play, risk, challenge and supervision surrounding safety in outdoor play spaces in the early years.
Australia has one of the world’s most user-friendly outdoor play environments:
climatically, culturally and in terms of resource richness. Yet, as a community, we see less and less outdoor play. Even in our own field of early childhood teaching, there is a worrying lack of focus. It is well recognised that outdoor play provides opportunities and experiences not available indoors. As early childhood professionals, we need to ask where children will have the opportunities to experience seasonal changes; to notice the weather; to observe the wildlife; have the space to run and move with speed; find nooks and crannies to share with friends; have the materials to manipulate and alter to fit in with their play schemes; and find the spaces that will excite and motivate them on to new levels of learning-through-play.
Bush Kinder: risk in context
Since the 1950s young children have played outdoors in Scandinavian Forest Preschools. Over the last decade this movement has spread internationally and increasingly forest preschool programs have been researched and evaluated. This presentation will outline the benefits and challenges of forest preschool programs with a focus on contextualising risk. In particular, Westgarth Kindergarten in Melbourne has recently established an Australian version of forest preschool referred to as Bush Kinder. In this program young children play in native bushland and risk management is integral for all participants, both children and adults.
What you always wanted to know about playground safety standards but were afraid to ask
A brief session for early childhood practitioners to clarify the content, principles and interpretation of key safety issues in the Australian Standards for outdoor play. Mary will discuss the thinking underlying some of the rules to assist staff to make their own judgments about what is acceptable in outdoor play settings.
Visit www.togetherwegrow.com.au for the full conference program.
Caulfield, VIC 3162