Before I became a primary school teacher, I trained and worked as a nursery nurse. My 'dissertation' equivalent had the rather considerable and earnest title of "The Importance of Play as a Part of a Child's Development". That was written 15 years ago when I conducted a comparative study between the pre-school establishments in Denmark and those in Wales. A group of my fellow students went out to visit a range of nurseries and took a whole load of photographs for me, while I poured over reference books and a fledgling Internet search engine.
What was hugely apparent back then was how the Scandinavians viewed education to be something that evolved through the child's natural curiosity and desire to learn and understand their world. At the time, nursery education in Wales was still incredibly formal and started at three years lasting a year before little Myfanwy or Dafydd entered formal schooling (as is still the case). In Denmark, children don't start formal education until the age of six which allows them time to be infants before the stiff structure of schooling.
The reason that I mention all of this is because The Boy is 21 months old now and I am fortunate that when he starts his formal education, he will enter into The Foundation Phase. This shift in the style of schooling has been heavily influenced by the Scandinavian model, and sees children exploring their world, getting mucky, playing with toys in a guided manner.
So after a wander around my school's nursery last week, I pinched their ideas and came home and set up a water-play area in the garden!
Do you know what that equals? A whole lot of fun!
Our garden is already quite child-friendly; swing, slide, a cube climbing frame and a playhouse. However, I wanted a messy area. Somewhere that he can mess around with water and dig and get dirty, just like children should. Somewhere he can find insects and bugs and learn about nature. I used to adore my garden as a child and I want The Boy to feel the same way.
Therefore on Saturday I decided to get creative with the above equipment. This is the result:
The educationalist in me will point out the scientific development and vocabulary learnt: pour, empty, full, splash, down, up. That's in addition to the mathematical enhancement when he started pointing out the shapes: triangle, square (ok so it was a diamond, but he was trying) and circle.
The mummy in me will highlight the pride when my son learnt that the water he poured into the funnel came out of the tube a metre away. Or when he was pouring water from one can to another.
The big kid in me is too busy splashing in the mud to care!
The next step is to surrender one of my small vegetable patches to a digging area and 'mini-beast' hotel for him!
This post has been submitted to the Tots100 March Blog Hop.