In 2014 Kirsty and Sonya were embarking on a quest to provide even better and more accessible outdoor learning within Sunbeams. They visited an award winning nursery in the south, and the setting also took part in a scheme run by the borough to give settings the courage to follow their instincts when it came to children, Early years education and the outdoor learning environment.
Researching the forest kindergartens of Scandinavia, looking at research about the benefits of this style of learning to the children of today and having the courage of our convictions led us to initiate our forest nursery “Muddy Munchkins”
Initially visiting the forest at High Mead Community farm in Longham 2 days per week in 2015, we quickly began to see the difference this had on the children. Their confidence increased, they were learning to assess risk for themselves, their language was developing faster…the list goes on. Even children who were normally reserved in the setting were different when outside.
The past 3 years has been about increasing capacity, accessibility and broadening their experiences – all children at Sunbeams now have the opportunity to spend at least one day each week in the outdoor learning environment; currently situated at Dudsbury Girl Guide camp, and we go to the site every day during term time.
As our GLD results for 2017 have shown, a greater number of the children attending Sunbeams and Muddy Munchkins have achieved a Good Level of Development by the end of their reception year than in previous years, and this is all correlates directly with the outdoor learning and child initiated planning that we do.