I'm Marissa, and I've been a dedicated member of the Woden Valley Early Learning team since 2005. Throughout my time here, I've developed a profound passion for native wildlife, which has led me to become a registered carer for Wildcare Queanbeyan. As a part of this role, I often find myself caring for orphaned eastern grey kangaroo joeys. Yes, they do accompany me to work each day, becoming cherished members of our extended family. My deep-rooted love for nature and wildlife has organically guided me into the fulfilling role I currently hold at Woden Valley ELC.
THE REASON WHY?
It's fascinating to realize that, for children, play serves as a powerful vehicle for learning. Nature play, in particular, offers a holistic approach to child development, encompassing physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth. In the great outdoors, children leverage the resources at their disposal to navigate and understand their world. Engaging in outdoor activities fosters resilience, self-confidence, initiative, creativity, and a myriad of other valuable life skills. Who wouldn't relish the feeling of bare feet, earthy hands, and a heightened sense of vitality?
One of our central themes revolves around inspiring children to cultivate a lifelong connection with the natural environment. Through active discussion and immersion in the physical changes in their surroundings, children can map out their knowledge and curiosity. This approach effectively dismantles any preconceived boundaries and unlocks a world of possibilities across all age groups. Importantly, children who are denied the opportunity to embrace outdoor play tend to exhibit heightened emotions and shorter attention spans. Over time, they may develop an aversion to the outdoors, which can foster unhealthy habits.
Engaging in outdoor play encourages children to explore, fosters a sense of wonder, cultivates problem-solving skills, and nurtures a shared respect for one another as they collectively ensure their safety and the safety of their peers.
PLACES AND SPACES PROGRAM
Our Nature Walk program - Places and Spaces is deeply rooted in the principles of exploration and fostering a profound connection with the natural world that envelops us. At its core, our program aims to nurture the children's capacity for keen observation and mindful interaction, cultivating a lasting respect for the land and its inhabitants. We have carefully crafted our approach, blending meticulously planned provocations that hold deliberate teaching objectives with spontaneous activities that organically sprout from the children's own inquisitiveness and passions.
To enrich the learning journey, we frequently weave engaging stories that draw inspiration from the rich tapestry of Australia's landscapes and its diverse wildlife, allowing the children to immerse themselves in captivating narratives. In an effort to enhance their cultural awareness and connection with the environment, we also encourage the children to embrace Ngunnawal words for naming the native animals we encounter, further deepening their appreciation of our indigenous heritage and the natural world around them.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What happens when there is rain or extreme weather conditions?
We have many alternatives for children which can be used whatever the weather, and during extreme weather conditions. We have a bell tent, an inside classroom, workshop and art studio which can be used. We support the children to play outside during light rain, although we will take them inside when it is raining heavily, or if it is very hot.
What about snakes?
Snakes are part of the Australian landscape. Our staff are trained to assist children to be safe in the environment, to check for signs of snake activity and have them removed by experts when required. We provide snake bite first aid kits to staff when in the outside environment, such as on Nature Walks.
What to bring?
Children who join Nature Walks must wear closed comfortable shoes and weather suitable clothing. We also ask for each child to have their own water bottle and hat.
What if the child has an accident / incident?
If the child is involved in a minor accident, first aid can be provided to that child on the spot. In case of more serious accidents the child will be brought to the closest 'meeting point' and either taken to the hospital or back to the Centre by additional personnel.