Children can benefit enormously from participating in visits with their teachers and their peers into the ‘Beyond’. The Beyond gives children the opportunity to undergo experiences that enrich and extend those opportunities available on site or those that might not be available in the normal home environment.
We consider our visits into the Beyond to be an integral part of our creative curriculum that enriches learning and development in the Early Years, celebrating the rhythms of life through the seasons.
Through visits into nature children come to understand, appreciate, and care for the natural world through exposure, self-directed play and exploration with adults who communicate its wonder and significance. Memories of childhood play and leisure in nature strengthen resources with which to cope with stress, inspire a sense of spiritual wonder and encourage stewardship for the earth. Play in natural environments contributes towards agility, balance, creativity, social co-operation and concentration. Connection to nature through gardening, harvesting, ceremonies and peaceful contemplation is an important dimension of the arts and heritage of many cultures.
In an increasingly urbanised and privatised world, children’s access to parks, gardens, forests, beaches and other natural areas is being eroded, and many children in low-income areas are most likely to lack adequate access to green spaces.
Our first visit is to Souter Lighthouse. We have a replica lighthouse in our very own beach which gives children an anchor in our garden and supports children to feel safe and secure to explore the beyond. During initial visits to the lighthouse, the team carefully observe children’s responses and curiosities in this space. Experiences are documented in floor books, through communications with children and through shared observations. The team then begin to consider what children need and where they would be best placed to visit next.
This can take a little bit of time and careful consideration. Decisions are made with careful consideration of:
Safety, security, confidence and well-being
Links to learning/individual interests and lines of enquiry
From this point, children access appropriate coastal/rural sites where they will be given the space, time and freedom to explore at their own pace and immerse themselves in their journey into nature. A space where they can use and apply their skills and learning derived from nursery, in the real world, experiencing the changes across the seasons.
Staff will carefully observe children and consider what the children are telling us they want to do next. Depending on what children are demonstrating/initiating, there may be a one off visit to deepen learning and understanding. For example, a fascination with boats may lead to an actual experience of being on a boat or a fascination with water may lead to a visit to a waterfall or a lake…broadening children’s horizons and moving learning on.
Whatever the line of enquiry…staff will follow and let the children lead the way!