Supporting children's growth through outdoor play
Warrawee Care Centre focuses on delivering an engaging outdoor play program that supports children’s development.
21 February 2022
With children back at early childhood education and care services for 2022, services are encouraged to use outdoor spaces where possible as an important strategy to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Located on the lands of the Darramuragal people, Warrawee Care Centre is a not-for-profit Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) at Warrawee Public School, that makes the most of their outdoor spaces to deliver innovative programs for children while being COVID-safe.
The service focuses on play and learning in nature through their Kitchen Garden, Forest Play program and Fire program, and currently holds an assessment and rating of Excellent, exceeding across all seven areas of the National Quality Standards.
Warrawee Care Centre Director Sam Williamson said their outdoor programs and experiences allow children to discover, be curious, explore risk-taking and develop resilience.
“Our staff saw a strong need to use natural spaces and seek to creatively fill gaps in children’s learning needs outside of their school and home environments, with many families having limited access to backyards and green spaces,” Ms Williamson said.
The service delivers a Forest Play program, inspired by Nature Play QLD, the Forest School approach and the Reggio Emilia approach. Children immerse themselves in the natural environment and learn how to assess risk by digging, building shelters, tying ropes and other practical activities. Through their Fire Program, children and educators gather around a fire pit to learn about sustainability, fire safety, risk-taking, cooking and the environment.
“Our Forest Play programs offer children the chance to learn through inquiry-based learning opportunities that encourage exploration and imagination in natural spaces.
“Sessions are planned by educators but are instigated by the children’s preferred learning styles, interests, intellectual curiosity and age.
“Our Forest Play Program is child-initiated and educator framed building children’s capacity and enhancing their social learning which is now most important following on from the last 2 years of COVID isolation and home schooling.
“It is a controlled, yet flexible learning environment and educators learn alongside children as they encourage children’s curiosity and experimentation,” Ms Williamson said.