Shining Nature’s Way- Gabby’s Family Day Care
To celebrate National Family Day Care Week, Collective Family Day Care was proud to sponsor and support Gabby from Gabby’s family Day Care who had formed a partnership with Warners Bay Area Sustainable Neighbourhood group to promote children getting back to nature.
On the 7th of May ‘Shining Nature’s way’ was launched. Forty local families from the Lake Macquarie area signed up to join Gabby and the internationally renowned pedagogical Nature leader Niki Buchan in exploring the local bushlands. With clear blue skies above, the enthusiastic group huddled together listening to the inspirational words from Niki who explained the benefits for children connecting to the Natural world. “It is important for us adults to stand back and let the children explore and discover the freedom to create and challenge themselves” Niki explained.
Prior to the families arriving the team from Warners Bay sustainable neighbourhood group with the guidance of Niki, ventured into a clearing deep in the bushlands and positioned the ‘tools ‘ready for the children to use alongside their imaginations. The tools ranged from whittling utensils, saws, pulleys, ropes, tape and binoculars.
Just like the ‘Pied Piper” Niki lead the way into the unknown. The children were excited to follow; some taking the path, others climbing over the boulders. Once at the site chosen, Niki addressed the gathering and explained what tools were available. Parents watched in awe as their children eagerly set about exploring what was available including the lovely muddy puddles.
As the children played it was noted and shared to families the educational possibilities of what their children were engaged in:
Exploring possibilities: One child was asked what they wanted to do and replied, “pull myself up a tree”. After some discussion and swapping of ideas it was decided a pulley would do the trick and by collaborating as a team the pulley was soon erected and the child followed by many others experience how a pulley system worked.
Mathematical learning: trial and error- experimentation: A child was fascinated with how ants worked. She set up an experiment by putting a stick close to the water to see how far the ants would crawl along before they fell off into the water. She also collected many sticks and lined them up from smallest to biggest.
Learning about caring for the land- Many conversations were had about caring for the land; one being able to recognise living and dead wood. This was important for the children to know so when they used their saws they only used dead wood so as not to destroy the living.
Many engineering feats were explored from adding to an already existing lean-to, building a walking bridge across water and creating a tightrope between two trees.
The children were given the opportunity to be confident and capable explorers.
The day was an enormous success with parents acknowledging how wonderful it was to come together as a community and allow their children to not only explore what nature provides but also to meet new people and form new friendships. One parent commented on the benefits she could see in having mixed age groups together noticing how they helped each other and made allowances for each other’s skill levels.
“Shining Nature’s Way” gave us the opportunity to promote the benefits of family day care and how we are setup to be able to support children in exploring things such as nature walks because of our low ratios. We were also able to convey the learning opportunities that come from having mixed age groups and the real sense of community that comes from individual relationships that are formed between families and educators.
The day was a shining example of what can be achieved through Family Day Care: Bringing the community together.