‘Every cloud has a silver lining’
Although the snow has made life difficult for grown-ups – particularly those that need to travel, it can be an incredible opportunity for play
Whitecraig primary have been making the most of it – linking it to reading and learning about things like hibernation. The photo above is from the Whitecraig edubuzz page – it truly is a King of Snowmen.
The Creative Star learning company has produced a resource pack with loads of great ideas for using the snow as a learning tool.
In the development of Support from the Start and forest school in particular I have had a number of opportunities to talk to teaching staff about why I think regular outdoor play / learning can make a difference for children’s health and well being. Each time I perform a little experiment by asking those present to close their eyes and think about a happy memory from their childhood. After a few moments I ask people to open their eyes and put up their hand if the memory involved being out of doors. So far each time this experiment has resulted in the vast majority (at least 90%) raising their hands.
Whether its fear of traffic, fear of strangers or the attraction of electronic games children seem to be spending more and more time in doors. So its wonderful to see nurseries and schools like Whitecraig taking the opportunity of a playground transformed by snow into a whole new world for play and learning. There are reasons not to play outdoors in snowy conditions – its cold, slippy, wet, it takes time to organise. There a lots of reason for, which could be listed – but I think one overwhelming one is that it is fun and what is learnt whilst having fun tends to stick.
If we look back as adults and find that our happy childhood memories are often linked to being outdoors, then surelywe should be providing this for our own children. My experience of schools and nurseries as a parent (in more than one Local Authority area) is that children rarely get to experience natural environments, and many school playgrounds are largely organised for the priorities of adults in the school not the children.
Scotland could easily be a nation (like Sweden) where being outdoors and learning in a natural environment is a normal part of the school / nursery timetable – not as currently where it all too often is only a special event / treat. We have some of the most rich, varied and exciting environments in the world – and for most of us its available on our doorsteps. Even the big cities have wonderful spaces (managed but natural) thanks largely to the legacy of those Victorian planners who recognised the benefits to physical and spirtual health of access to green space.
All we need is a change of ‘mind set’ – as well as good waterproofs and lots of layers.