Play and Learn children (from left) Ollie Walker-Leach (4),
Cohen Daniels (3), Dominic Breese (3), teacher Helen
Collins, Lena Walker (1), Eve Morton (4), Ella Bezett (3)
and Jack Nicolaou (partially obscured, 4) have fun in the
mud at the Fairfield Reserve yesterday. Photo by Craig
Stomping through mud in gumboots, Ella Bezett and Jack
Nicolaou could not be happier.
Fellow group members were also happy to be climbing over
downed logs and racing through the undergrowth.
For early childhood teacher Helen Collins, seeing her charges
have fun outdoors has influenced her postgraduate research on
outdoor education so much she has made a movie about it.
She hoped it would inspire parents to see the importance of
allowing their children to get outdoors and take a few risks.
''It's all about total wellbeing. There is a lot to learn out
there and if they don't learn to manage themselves when they
are little, how can they make sensible decisions [when
they're older]?''Ms Collins works at Play and Learn
Fairfield, an early childhood centre which runs a nature
programme aimed at getting its charges into the outdoors on a
regular basis, visiting parks and beaches.
Centre owner Jan Beatson said the two-year-old programme was
inspired by the Forest Schools movement in Scandinavia.
Many young children went from home to inside the four walls
of daycare and home again. Instead, this programme gave young
children the opportunity to learn to take risks and be
challenged in a supervised environment.
Such programmes had benefits for health, fitness and the
development of social and cognitive skills, she said.
Toys were not taken into the outdoors so children learned to
entertain themselves, making their own fun, she said.
Running such a programme was a challenge as she and her
teachers were taking on extra risk and responsibility, Ms
''It means extra staffing, doing risk analysis and we are
well aware if anything happens it's on our heads, but we
believe it is worth taking the risk.''