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Danish Pre-schools


Guest Wolfie
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Guest Wolfie

I've been at a meeting this afternoon at which a colleague shared information and photos about a study trip she'd been on last week to Denmark, to look at practices in pre-schools and kindergartens over there...I want a job over there!! The pictures of the outdoor environments and forest schools that the children have access to were so inspiring.

 

What struck me most was the real freedom that the children have to explore resources and be creative - and also the completely different approach that the practitioners have to allowing the children to take and manage risks in their play. There were some photos of a barn, absolutely full of hay bales of different sizes and shapes. for the children to build with, climb on, etc. and the children were absorbed for hours. One of my other colleagues commented that in this country, we would be wheelbarrowing all the inhalers and epipens along into the barn behind the children - she's so right! And yet there was none of that in Denmark. There were also outdoor firepits, where the children cooked food and made vegetable soup - one photo showed a five year old peeling carrots with a penknife!

 

I KNOW we have to pay due attention to the children's health and safety but sometimes I just think that we've gone totally mad at the expense of giving the children wonderful experiences such as these. Think of all the risks that we took and managed in our own childhoods, when playing at home or out with our friends - those experiences are the ones that come to mind when we think about our best childhood memories aren't they?? We're just so scared of comeback and litigation these days that we limit the experiences we give to children more and more. When we discussed it, we reckoned it was as much to do with educating parents - getting them on board with the underlying philosophies and values. My colleague said that in Denmark, parents were totally behind everything the pre-schools did for their children and wouldn't have it any other way.

 

I don't know what the answer is.........

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Oh how I agree with everything you said. We need to lead and inspire on this. Currently I am trying to get ideas for designing my outdoor play area which is reasonably large and caters for the 0-3's and I am meeting problems by everyone saying that we have to have two areas one for the little ones i.e. under ones and one for the older ones. they are proposing segregating them with a metal fence with a gate in it - right down the middle - nice!!!............... I have to say I am appalled and will clearly fight this to the bitter end - I want to create one large garden area with nooks and crannies, willow structures, a water feature, lots of wooden things to climb on and fall off on with not a "manufactured" thing in site - by that I mean the typical sort of things you see in catalogues that cost a bomb. Lots of bark, gravel, sand, planting areas a chalet style play house, two wooden A-frames for hanging things on or covering as a tent or hidey whole. I feel that the children are being treated like animals in a cage - surely if my risk assessment caters for the groups being together then I should be ok with one large garden for all 17 0-3's and it would be much more enjoyable for all.

Have phoned Ofsted with regard to this segregation - they said that no there wasnt but we all know they change their mind. If people don;t put up a stand we will all be left with boring outdoor play areas with many manufacturers making lots of money by supplying expensive equipment that is neither needed or wanted.

Question:

Does anyone know or have seen anything that says we must segregate children in the outdoor play area? I cannot find anything - can I challenge you to see if there is something?

Would love to have your thoughts as I really want to create a magical garden with lots of different things in it but with no bright coloured metal or plastic.

Nikki

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Guest Wolfie

Go for it Nikki, I'm right behing you! One point that was made this afternoon was that the experiences provided in Denmark replicated good home childhood experiences and you could apply the same rule here...if you were parents to three childen under five, would you put a wire fence down the middle of your garden and segregate them....... :o

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Your garden sounds wonderful Nikki and I absolutely agree on non-segregation of the different aged children. How else do the younger ones learn if they don't have the older ones to watch and copy?

Like Wolfie said, we wouldn't fence off our own children so why would we do it in our settings?

:o

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thanks Inge, very interested photos! just more evidence of how they have got it so right!

 

i'm going to Sweden early next year and hope to visit some early years settings out there - have seen programmes on teachers tv from Sweden where children are with the same group of children and adults from the age of 2 - 6 in family units - it was just wonderful!

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As a matter of interest, is your trip to Sweden an organised educational study one or a holiday? I'm now desperate to go out there and see things for myself and have been trying to find out if any companies have study trips organised?

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The one that my colleague went to Denmark with was organised by Sightlines Initiative - I've looked on their website but they don't seem to have any more planned, only to Italy...and I want Scandinavia!!!

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Oh if only all setting could have such initiative. My setting recently had some outdoor play equipment put in the garden, it cost thousands fom a grant and my son was not impressed. It takes up the majority of the garden and although it does at the moment interest the younger children I am sure this will be short lived.

 

All of my happiest childhood memories are of being in wide open spaces, brushing through long grass, rolling around and generally getting mucky.

 

I am very keen to use part of my EYPS grant to do a full on forest school training.

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Oh how I agree with everything you said. We need to lead and inspire on this. Currently I am trying to get ideas for designing my outdoor play area which is reasonably large and caters for the 0-3's and I am meeting problems by everyone saying that we have to have two areas one for the little ones i.e. under ones and one for the older ones. they are proposing segregating them with a metal fence with a gate in it - right down the middle - nice!!!............... I have to say I am appalled and will clearly fight this to the bitter end - I want to create one large garden area with nooks and crannies, willow structures, a water feature, lots of wooden things to climb on and fall off on with not a "manufactured" thing in site - by that I mean the typical sort of things you see in catalogues that cost a bomb. Lots of bark, gravel, sand, planting areas a chalet style play house, two wooden A-frames for hanging things on or covering as a tent or hidey whole. I feel that the children are being treated like animals in a cage - surely if my risk assessment caters for the groups being together then I should be ok with one large garden for all 17 0-3's and it would be much more enjoyable for all.

Have phoned Ofsted with regard to this segregation - they said that no there wasnt but we all know they change their mind. If people don;t put up a stand we will all be left with boring outdoor play areas with many manufacturers making lots of money by supplying expensive equipment that is neither needed or wanted.

Question:

Does anyone know or have seen anything that says we must segregate children in the outdoor play area? I cannot find anything - can I challenge you to see if there is something?

Would love to have your thoughts as I really want to create a magical garden with lots of different things in it but with no bright coloured metal or plastic.

Nikki

 

Hi Nikki I am FS coordinator in a first school and in my outdoor area at anyone time there could be children from our parent and toddler group(0-3)Nursery children(3-4)and reception children (4-5)There has never been a need to segregate them and we find the older children develop a really caring attitude to the little ones.I cant see the need for it if all areas and equipment are safe and supervised I think what you are planning sounds really good ;go for it :o

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