Toddlers explore their natural environment

    What was your favourite part of the garden or park to explore when you were a child? Did you enjoy digging in the dirt to find worms? Smelling the flowers and exploring for nests? Building mini-cities of rocks and sticks?

    Playing in the natural environment is a fundamental part of being a child.

    Exploring and touching and experiencing and smelling. The natural environment captures young minds.

    The children, families and staff at one of our Early Childhood Centres were involved in a research project as they recreated the toddler program at the centre to include nature-based play in the natural environment.

    Service Manager, Cassandra Dinte, believed that the children in the toddler program did not have adequate access to the outdoor environment.

    "For many families who live within the area, they have limited access to outdoor space with very small or no backyards. We know the benefits of children playing in the natural environment and wanted to give them the opportunity," Cassandra said.

    "We see an immediate change in children’s behaviours when they are given the opportunity to be part of the natural play space. They take risks, explore on their own and choose natural play over plastic equipment. We also see that they seek less adult assistance and use their imagination more."

    With a community garden located over the fence from the centre, it was the perfect place for the children to be able to explore and engage with the natural environment.

    "The community garden is a place where there is an abundance of learning opportunities. We want to start to teach the children about the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and perspectives on the environment and teach them about the importance of being custodians of the land on which we live."

    In June, the team from Kallangur Early Childhood Centre presented the research to approximately 100 candidates at the Workforce Council’s #letusbe workshop on the Gold Coast.

    The centre’s vision is for the children in each area to be able to be involved with the community garden and for toddlers to be able to enjoy exploring the outdoors more.


    Posted August 25, 2016 in Blog