Learning from the wisdom of a life spent working with the outdoors

ECO champion Kathryn Solly has previously contributed posts for the Early Childhood Outdoors blog: What a wonderful world outside! and Pandemic possibilities outdoors.  With the approach of a new Early Years Summit from Kathy Brodie (running free from 31st May to 6th June with no less than 30 interviews on speech, language and communication), it is a great pleasure this week to share some edited snippets of Kathryn’s interview with Kathy for the Spring 2019: Challenge and Risk in the Early Years Summit.  In this lively conversation, Kathryn draws upon the deep wisdom she has accumulated through many years of practicing, developing and leading child-led play and learning outdoors.

Kathryn Solly is the retired Headteacher (or Headlearner, as she prefers to say) of Chelsea Open Air Nursery School and Children’s Centre, and she is now a specialist Early Years consultant, trainer and author.  Members of the ECO meshwork are sure to know about her book, Risk, Challenge and Adventure in the Early Years (see below), and you might also be interested in her two-part twilight online training course coming up with Early Education on 18th May: Improving your outdoor provision and practice in easy and sustainable ways (currently with a 25% off sale price).

Grab a cuppa and enjoy 10 minutes of wide-ranging interview extracts here.

What is also really exciting to know is that Kathryn has been working on a new book, Leading Learning Outside from Birth to Seven, to be published by Routledge and hopefully available early in 2022.  Giving us a tase of what this Opus Magnus is about, she says:

“This book is my swansong and is dedicated to our three grandchildren who go on inspiring me to learn more about child development and play/learning outdoors.  It is set in the political context for those working with babies and young children where there are some very mixed messages about its relevance and importance to how young children learn and how they should be taught.

Although outdoor play and learning are increasingly recognised as being important, there is still considerable uncertainty and sometimes confusion amongst leaders and others about the importance, value, frequency, safety and developmental appropriateness of outdoors at this time.

Despite this being the once in a life time opportunity to place outdoor play and learning at the top of the recovery agenda, many are still undecided, so this book aims to help them.  Now is the time to provide research, guidance, ideas, background information and a rich array of case studies.  It is aimed at helping everyone to enhance their pedagogy and practice outdoors and provides a wealth of information of leading outdoors from birth to age seven.”

Risk, Challenge and Adventure in the Early Years: A practical guide to exploring and extending learning outdoors (Routledge 2015)

(From the blurb on the book’s back cover):

What is the difference between ‘risk’ and ‘danger’?  What can children learn from taking risks?  How can you provide key experiences for children and ensure their safety outdoors?

Young children will naturally seek out challenges and take risks and this is crucial to their overall development.  This book clearly explains why children should be given the freedom to take risks and provides practical guidance on how to offer stimulating and challenging outdoor experiences that will extend all areas of children’s learning.

This book is essential reading for practitioners who wish to provide rich experiences for children that will enable them to become confident and adventurous learners.

Kathy Brodie’s Early Years summits

Kathryn’s full interview is still available to watch as part of the Challenge and Risk in the Early Years summit.  There are now 8 summits, each with a wide range of interviews on leading themes.  With 9.5 hours of video, the summit dedicated to Outdoor Play and Learning also features Kathryn, Erin Kenny, Menna Godfrey, Professor Jan White, Toni and Robin Christie, Julie Mountain, Michael Follet, Dr Sue Elliot, Natalie Canning, Julie Ann White, Angela Hanscom, Juliet Robertson, Dr Ruby Red Scarlet, Terri Harrison, Dr Clare Warden and Liz Edwards.

If you purchase any of the summits through this Affiliate link here, a donation will be made to Early Childhood Outdoors.  If you found Dr Tanya Richardson’s ECO blog posts about her research on language outdoors interesting (find them here and here), you’ll want to watch her interview in the upcoming Speech, Language and Communication summit!

Images are copyright Carol Duffy and must not be used without written permission from the photographer or Early Childhood Outdoors.



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