Anyone who has ever watched a child interact with the natural world knows how curious they are about all the things that live and grow around them. With limited chances to get out and about in nature, now, more than ever, it’s crucial for children to seize every opportunity they can to engage with the outside world.
Nature can positively impact children’s development; intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically. Here’s how children explore nature at Castlereagh Street Early Learning Centre.
At Castlereagh Street Early Learning Centre, we make sure our children have ongoing opportunities to explore relationships with other living things. In doing so, they’re able to observe, notice and respond to change as they watch the growing process.
When out in nature, children tend to play creatively and collaboratively, which helps to develop teamwork and problem-solving skills. By interacting with all things green, children amplify their cognitive abilities by exploring new sights, sounds, textures and smells.
Numeracy and literacy skills are developed through these natural interactions. For example, seeing patterns in nature and recreating them back at the centre promoted numeracy by developing children’s understanding of sequencing and order, and becoming involved in in-depth discussions about what they have experienced in the great outdoors helps to develop communication skills and confidence to express their ideas through language.
When exposed to different natural environs, play encourages children to use their bodies differently and relate to each other in a different way – running, jumping, climbing, delicately touching raindrops on leaves, all help to build physical skills. As well as all this, being among plants and parks also tends to lessen stress and promote feelings of calmness – and not just for children!
A recent project at the centre, children observed the life cycle of a plant; from seed to sprout. With their curiosity off the charts, they had to rely on their patience as the plants sprouted and grew tiny leaves. When the seeds began to take root, we discussed what they were and made space for the children to hypothesise about their purpose. To build on their ideas, we opened up a conversation and asked open-ended questions so we could collectively discover all about roots and how plants grow.
Out and about
To further extend children’s experiences, Castlereagh Street Early Learning Centre embarked on an excursion to see The Green Wall at 1 Bligh Street in the CBD. When we arrived, some of the children remembered the last time we saw it and related their memories to the group. When we touched the plants and hanging roots, excitement levels hit a high, and the children noticed the drops of water falling from the wall. Hypothesising about this phenomenon, they decided it might be rain, with each child using their critical thinking and communication skills to offer their own opinions.
After much discussion, we talked about the recycled watering system that was in use and took the opportunity to explore how it works. Having watered the plants in the centre with drinking water they no longer need, we were able to build on their understanding of the concept of recycling water. They applied their experience on a larger scale to learn about the recycled water that keeps the green wall growing.
Some natural stats
If you want to take your child on a walk past the brilliantly green wall, here is some interesting information about this benchmark in sustainable design. The gorgeous green wall is 9.7-metres high and 40-metres long and is kept hydrated by black water generated from the tower itself through a pump system. The children all love looking for the little pump cupboards hidden in the wall. The plants themselves are wild tropical, water-loving species which you can look up and learn to identify.
When you know what to look for, there are little bits and pieces of nature to be found everywhere in the city. Watch out for other green gems at One Central Park, Chippendale, Mitchell Street Plaza, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, Cumberland Street and Roads and Maritime Services.
Learn more about Castlereagh Street Early Learning Centre
To discover more about this incredible early learning centre in Sydney’s CBD, or to book a tour, head here.