The last few weeks at Venture have been particularly dreamy. The days when we decide to climb the hills are definitely some of the most memorable. But there has been something else which has been really incredible to watch, another way in which the children can change their perspective, and this has been tree climbing. It is the first time that we have experienced the older children deciding to really push themselves and get as high as they can. Of course, a wonderful benefit of climbing trees is that it can suit every child so the younger or less abled children can also join in, hanging around on the lower branches. All the time watching, learning from and aspiring to be the child high up in the tree smiling and looking down on everyone. You may not know that this simple activity has so many incredible benefits for a child. We all have memories of being alone high up in a tree with a wonderful sense of freedom and feeling alive. You are so aware of being almost wrapped inside a beautiful piece of nature and feeling suddenly strong and confident. Think about by way of comparison a child climbing on play equipment compared to a tree. The tree climbing child is working with something unpredictable and needs a lot more focus and concentration. It is an exceptionally sensory experience and one that is proven to rapidly develop spatial reasoning skills and form complex neural networks in the brain. You need to be a problem solver and have a resilient can-do attitude, developing flexibility not only of the body but of the mind.
During our recent interviews for a leader at the kindergarten, we have met many reception teachers. One of our questions to them has been ‘what do you feel are the most important traits for children to have when they come into school.’ Their answers have resoundingly been that there is an immense concern that so many children are arriving in the school classroom unable to do things for themselves and unable to cope due to a lack of focus, determination and resilience. The seven traits of resilience are: insight, independence, relationships, initiative, creativity, humour, and morality. Studies of risky play have identified four characteristics in a resilient child: social competence, problem-solving skills, autonomy and sense of purpose and future. All of these traits can potentially be derived from tree climbing. Well, we can very proudly say that we have been striving to ensure that for every child we send on from Venture Outdoor Kindergarten to school a lot of work has been put in to ensure that they have these qualities. How brilliant therefore that rather than sitting them down to do phonics and maths lessons (the teachers we spoke to all said that sadly this is what far too many preschools are doing) we have been climbing trees!
Read the rest of our summer 1 newsletter here.