I recently took a well-deserved break in the South Hams, and as I’m sure many of you reading this will understand, my eyes and ears are always open to watching children at play.
On this particular afternoon at the beach, two young brothers caught my attention. One (who I am guessing was aged about 2) began by intently watching my family play our traditional and often very competitive, game of beach boules. He stood close by for about 25 minutes, observing the game and watching the participants cheering and commiserating, depending on their throw. He was clearly fascinated by what he saw (which in part didn’t surprise me – we are a noisy lot), but his resolve to stand, undeterred and undistracted did.
Meanwhile his slightly older brother looked on from a distance. Mum was sat observing but not nearby. What happened next kept not just me, but my golf-mad hubby and son, entertained and fascinated for a good 20 minutes. The older child using a spade, attempted to hit a tennis ball into three buckets that he had lined up. His spade was large and with each attempt it caught the dry sand before making contact with the ball and missing his target. His body language and facial expressions personified both the frustration and determination he was feeling, he threw his hands up in the air and muttered to himself!
We watched as he adjusted the buckets, changed the way he held the spade and his stance. He tried again and again, each time he didn’t reach the goal he’d set for himself, we feared he would either give up, cry or get cross. He didn’t. He demonstrated such resolve, resilience and patience. Mum sat patiently, not assisting or advising and when his little brother arrived (armed with a much smaller spade to join in the game) and managed to ‘score’ on his first attempt, he showed support and praise, cuddling his younger sibling.
What is the point of me telling you this story?
Well for me it symbolised much of what I have come to realise since opening my Outdoor Nursery, Beatle Woods in September 2017; ensuring children have the time, space and freedom to investigate and explore at their own pace is vital!
They quickly learn to be resilient, have high levels of self-esteem and the belief that they can try new things without the fear of failure. We know that empowering children and respecting their choices and voices should be at the heart of good practice.
In our child-led environment, children make ALL of the choices; they know best and not well-meaning adults with their own agenda. We must make sure that children can develop the qualities and skills that they need, when they are ready. We ensure children have unrushed, uninterrupted time to connect with nature, all year round, whatever the weather. Children have opportunities to manage their own risks and soon assist others too. Our journey has given us much evidence of the impact of this approach; the huge benefits of standing back and waiting on emotional health and wellbeing for all children.
Our practitioners are facilitators, just like the mum in my story, knowing the children well and knowing when to wait before jumping in to help. Beatle Woods is proud and excited to be an ECO Pioneering Centre for Inspiration, sharing the messages and supporting others on their quest to get children outside.
For more information see our website: www.beatlewoods.co.uk