#1 – CELEBRATE BEING IN NATURE
I am not talking about an outing or special expedition, but extended time spent daily in a familiar place where children can slowly extend the boundaries out of their comfort zone.
As Clare Warden notes in her book on Nature Kindergartens and Forest Schools, there is a subtle but important difference between “going” outside and “being” outside. To “be” somewhere is to work on another plane. It takes time to be mindful and present when you are in nature. To simply go outside, play and then go back inside just isn’t the same.
We all know it’s good for kids to play outside but it’s bigger than that.
According to the World Economic Forum in 2020, these are the skills future generations will need –
resilience, confidence, creativity, problem solving, cognitive flexibility, risk judgement and conflict resolution –
I believe, and research shows, that one of the best ways to develop these skills is for children to spend time in nature.
#2 – CELEBRATE COMMUNITY
I am endlessly connecting people and building communities. I just can’t help myself. A connected community is a supported community and the kind of support network we’ve seen spring back to life during COVID is what I dream of.
In this environment children have to make their own fun, they need to collaborate and communicate. They learn to socialise and as a result develop their emotional intelligence. And as we all know how important this skill is for the future.
Let’s involve our children, not hide them behind a big wall in an enclosed space. Let’s have them out and about so they learn how to interact and build connections with their local community.
Old people are rock stars but sometimes they’re not around. They teach our children so much and vice versa – just watch an episode of The Old People’s Home for 4 year olds – I defy you not to feel joy.
We are all about intergenerational play time – oldies and youngies do the garden together, they cook, craft, read. They hang out, often.
We will be a hub for the community. Families and carers are encouraged to hang out and participate in our activities. This can be such a challenging time for families and parenting is far from easy and we want to support them. From parenting workshops to social activities like creating their own veggie patch, pickling and fermenting, crafting. creating non-toxic cleaning products and the like
Let’s grow great communities that look after each other.
#3 – CELEBRATE CHILDHOOD
We are children once – when childhood is gone, it’s gone
Celebrate it – let them have fun and be ridiculous.
This is not a time to rush through on the way to adulthood.
Let’s talk less about what they will be when they grow up and value them for who they are now.
Let’s let them just be kids whilst they can.
#4 – CELEBRATE DIVERSITY
Let’s surround kids with a diversity of people who love and care for them – people who have their own unique perspective on the world.
I pledge to do my best to encourage people from non-traditional pathways who are aligned with our values to join our team as educators.
And we will celebrate those educators for the incredibly important role they play with our little humans.
Nature is all accommodating and provides infinite possibilities for children to learn regardless of their background.
Time spent outdoors and surrounded by nature is grounding – children learn a sense of place – they learn about the ebb and flow of life.
We experience weather rather than watch it and learn to follow and celebrate the seasons as they come and go.
They may go to the same place every day but it is always different – perhaps a branch has fallen, new birds are around, the leaves are changing, it’s wet.
Nature can unify children as they find a sense of wonder in the smallest bug or the biggest tree or, as happened to my girls the other day, being caught in a hail storm in the middle of a bushwalk.
Nature can inspire awe and shared awe is a wonderful thing and can help us forget the small and insignificant including petty differences.
#5 – CELEBRATE INCLUSIVITY
I want to ensure all kids are welcomed and included.
So I will look to support families that wish to join us regardless of their circumstances.
Children aren’t born seeing differences, they learn them. At this age they simply want to play. The opportunity to mix and integrate with all abilities and backgrounds at an early age helps to build the foundations of a future without prejudice.
#6 – CELEBRATE CONNECTION TO COUNTRY
I am so grateful for this beautiful land on which we play and acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and honour and celebrate their elders past, present and emerging.
As we seek to learn about this country, we must look to our First Nations friends and seek their guidance and assistance. It is vital that our children learn the history and culture of this area so they can honour and protect it.
Being connected to country provides children with an authentic environment for them to learn about the world and their place in it.
We will plant native plants including endangered species that will create corridors and encourage the local fauna to come and visit. We will plant native edibles that we will grow, prepare, cook on the fire pit in the garden or the kitchen and then share together.
We will try to touch the earth lightly in all we do. We will recycle, repurpose and reuse. We will compost, go solar and use rain tanks.
We’ll champion being ethical and sustainable in all we do and will involve the children in understanding this process and why it’s important.
I want our children to develop a lifelong love and respect of this land and to feel deeply connected to it.
#7 – CELEBRATE CHILDREN AS VALUED CITIZENS
Let’s respect our children as valuable citizens in our society.
Let’s listen to them more and underestimate them less.
They are capable and deserve the opportunity to be given responsibilities.
We have become a risk averse society but we don’t live in a risk free world so let them climb that tree and learn about their limits and how to manage risk.
Feeling powerless is the worst feeling as a kid
Let’s let children feel empowered.
At the end of the day, the more we can step back and let them do what comes naturally the better.
Let’s grow resilient children.