Purpose of Innature Education
To provide tamariki with the opportunity to engage in free nature play and learning and develop their holistic wellbeing.
Benefits of Nature Education
The benefits of nature education and forest school programmes are varied and wide. There is a growing amount of evidence that suggests spending time in nature has many positive rewards such as a calmer mind, better mental focus, relaxation, decreased levels of stress, the list goes on. For children the rewards are the same and nature is also an amazing place to learn. Nature along with child led play helps develop creativity, curiosity, a connection to papatutuanuku (mother earth), a better understanding of the natural world and all of this helps children to become more environmentally aware. Giving a child the freedom to explore and discover in nature also helps develop confidence, resilience, grit, problem solving skills and strategies and solutions to deal with challenges. Use of fine and gross motor development, social skills, literacy and numeracy are widely used in nature. Most of all the child's overall mental, physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing is developed and supported when they get to have unhindered time in natural spaces.
For more information about the benefits of connecting to nature have a look at this research: https://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/getting-involved/students-and-teachers/benefits-of-connecting-children-with-nature.pdf
A day plan just gives an estimate of timings to help everyone know what to expect. Timing and plans can vary depending on what children are up to and where they are at.
9.00am Children arrive in the forest and meet in the fire circle or under the shelter for circle time, meet and greet, welcome and rules. (Bags to be left under shelter). Please bring your child/ren into the forest to meet us and feel free to have a look around.
9.45am Site investigation, boundaries and risk assessment as a group.
10am Free play and exploring.
10.30/11am Morning Tea andToilet stop.
11.30am Group Walk through forest, fire lighting, hut building.
12.30am Lunch and Check in
1pm Free play and/or group activities, games, whittling, art.
2.10pm Pack up, back together for circle time, reflection and good byes.
3pm Parent pick up from the forest. Please come into the forest to pick up or child/ren. Feel free to come earlier to have a play and explore yourself.
Clothing and What to Bring
Having the right clothing makes for an enjoyable nature programme. This is not just for the children but for the teachers and parents too. Below is a list for winter and summer clothing with further information about why it is required.
Food and water - Please make sure your child/ren has a big healthy litterless lunch and a full bottle of water. Children can get very hungry and thirsty playing in nature and may need to refill often. Please help us to stop rubbish occurring in the forest by packing a litterless lunch where possible.
Rain jackets - Rain jackets are great for long periods of enjoyment in wet conditions. Hoods are useful for stopping rain from going down the back of the neck and can also act as a heater for the head. The main purpose though is to stop us getting cold. When we get wet we are more likely to get cold so rain jackets are a priority even if the weather looks sunny. Please make sure your child/ren has a rain jacket with them on every session.
Over Trousers - Over trousers for winter or rainy days are really useful for keeping children dryer for longer and warmer. www.mudmates.co.nz or www.puddlejumpers.co.nz have some good options for all wet weather gear. Farmers and Mitre 10 also have options.
Woollen hat or sun hat - Woollen beanies are really useful on cold days for keeping heads warmer. We lose lots of heat through our heads so winter hats can help keep the heat in. In summer a wide brim hat is very useful for keeping the sun off our faces and neck. These are required at schools and kindys as well.
Gloves - Gloves are a great option for really cold mornings and winter days. They need to be fingered gloves though as mittens aren’t very practical for playing and picking things up. Snow gloves or water proof gloves are the best option to cover all conditions.
Warm Layers - Please make sure your child/ren has lots of extra layers of clothing, particularly if it is running. It is better to be warm with lots of layers to peel off than be cold with nothing extra to put on. Thermal long sleeve tops and leggings are great. Cotton is not so good especially on really cold days, if cotton gets wet it can make you colder.
Warm thick socks/ extra socks - Warm thick socks particularly in gumboots are a great option. Gumboots aren't usually that thick so toes need extra warmth. Extra pairs of socks are also useful to layer up with.
Gumboots or sturdy shoes (Closed toe footwear, NO JANDALS) - Gumboots are a good option for wet or moist mornings. The ground can be bumpy so having an option of sturdy shoes on dryer days is good as well. There are a lot of gorse and brambles in the forest so to save scratched toes and feet. Closed footwear is a must.
Covered Shoulders - Covered shoulders are essential to keep the sun off.
Spare Clothes - A set of spare clothes is a necessity as you never know what could happen weather wise or what your child/re might get up to.
Sunblock and Medication - We will supply a natural sunblock. Please make sure your child has their own sunblock with them if they use a specific one. Please inform us of any medications your child/ren may be on and give it to us to look after and/or administer if needed.
The teachers will be following the Standard Operating Procedures which have been established for these sessions. It covers:
Site Assessment and Hazard Identification checks to be carried out
Group and safety equipment to be carried including first aid kits, whistle, walkie talkies and emergency procedure documentation.
Location emergency exits and point of interest.
Learning Injuries and Life Altering Injuries
Learning injuries are injuries like scratches, bruises, cuts, grazes and even the odd broken bone. In childhood development these are acceptable as they are not causing significant harm - they are busy learning.
Life Altering injuries are injuries that have a significant impact on a child. These could be head injuries, back and neck injuries or death.
Through all our hazard assessment and risk assessment management processes we will do everything within our control to prevent life altering injuries. However, you might see your child/ren come home with some learning injuries - these are all part of their development and will mend in no time!
It has been identified that the main hazards to be aware when entering the Gum forest for Innature Education sessions are:
School Road - cars, trucks, orchard vehicles and bikes - full body injury.
Weather (high winds/ trees/falling branches - crushing
Temperature - sunburn or hypothermia
Medical emergencies - asthma
Prior to tamariki coming into the forest a daily risk assessment will be carried out. When arriving at the site a daily hazard checklist shall be completed by staff. Any new hazards that are identified will be updated on the risk management form at the end of the session.
Tamariki will be involved in risk assessment discussions which will help to increase their own personal assessment abilities.
Weather is changeable and it’s important that children are dressed appropriately on the Innature Education days. If adverse weather is forecast for the day the decision will be made in the morning and a message will be posted on Innatures Facebook page and a text message will be sent to all whanau. Adverse weather includes heavy rain, strong wind or a big storm.
We have either a composting toilet on site for all children and adults to use when necessary or public facilities available.
Hand Washing and Drinking Water
We bring clean water on site daily so there is a hand washing station set up near the toilet. A drinking water station will be set up near the fire welcome circle.