Followers on twitter will know that we just had an excellent birthday party where the kids went out exploring. No running round a Church hall for us and playing party games, good fresh air and getting grubby, girls and boys. I've written a review about the party but something at the party made me think.
The group consisted mostly of school friends, and 2 old friends from nursery who have gone onto different schools. At Princess C's school one day a week, no matter what the weather, they go out to the wooded area of the school field and explore. I'm not sure what they get up to but it involves a lot of mud judging by the state they come home in. The kids love this day, they play hide and seek, listen to bird songs and make bird feeders, learn about fungi and moss. I'm sure the teacher can go into more details but 4/5 year old's are very short on feedback at the end of the school day.
So when all the kids went out exploring at the party they really got into it, they almost seemed upset when it was time to go in and the cold didn't seem to bother them. Except for the 2 girls from different schools. Both complained about the cold, neither got into exploring or wanted to take home what they made that day. I don't think it was down to them not knowing anyone in the group as they were made to feel welcome and mixed well. But I do know neither child goes to a school with a wild outdoor area that they can explore every week.
Sadly in school their outdoor exploring day doesn't extend beyond reception, from year 1 I think it focuses more on sports. But I'm so please she has had this time to develop a love of getting out there, getting grubby and learning things.
Schools are being forced to expand to make way for extra classes, this means valuable outdoor areas are being concreted over. Some parents didn't even know the place we visited existed, yet it's right on their doorstep and can be seen for some miles. If parents don't take their children out, and schools get concreted over what chance do children have to know what is out there... watching Bear Grylls on tv.
In April it will be a year from when the National Trust launched their 50 things to do before you're 11 and 3/4. I do hope this has made an impact, we did a blog post on how to complete some of your 50 things within Oxfordshire.