Toddlers in the Scottish Woods: Kids Learning, Growing & Problem Solving in Nature by Steven White
Our group of children and adults here at Tiptoe’s Nursery in Larbert, Scotland, often venture in and around our local community. Like many places in Scotland, we are only a short walk to a green space. We are keen to share and hope that you like these on/off site experiences over the coming weeks, months and possibly years.
The forest provides an infinite number of possibilities for kids and grownups. The beauty of this naturally challenging environment is that it provides an almost endless and ever-changing landscape. It offers us motivational problem-solving experiences in which we flourish in, grow, learn, navigate and connect with.
“Very young children are natural problem solvers. They learn to walk and talk by having a desire to attain their goal, by mimicking others, by trying things out, by making lots of mistakes and adjusting strategies accordingly, and by gradually gaining in confidence.” (Windham, L. and Pennant, J. 2014) The adult role is of vital importance when respecting, supporting and nurturing our children that are in our care. Children are given freedom and time to self-regulate, cope and persevere while presented with a challenging environment. The adults situates themselves within the group at a level that is comfortable for the kids, unimposing, they share space respectfully and quietly.
Dr. Sue Gifford states: "Problem solving is an important way of learning, because it motivates children to connect previous knowledge with new situations and to develop flexibility and creativity in the process. Therefore, it is important that children see themselves as successful problem solvers who relish a challenge and can persist when things get tricky.”
Challenge surrounds the children and it is the subtle support from the adult that supports exploration and inquiry to occur in a safe environment where child and adult participate in "Responsive Risk Benefit Assessments." Children are inherently aware of the hazards that the forest contains and they choose how much challenge to engage in, and are never forcefully requested to do so.
What do you think?