Don’t fall off your chair, but I learned something last week.
“We have to do that thing for the school,” Tracey had reminded me again during the school holidays.
“Bugger,” I said. “I thought we’d got away with that.”
The principal had asked if our kids could put together a bit of a presentation at their morning assembly about our travels throughout Australia. My concern was it might be a bit boring for them. Who really wants to sit through someone else’s holiday snaps?
I say that recognising the irony I have a blog and I’ve regular put up our adventures for you to ‘enjoy’.
On the day, Miss11 stood in front of the school and read a little two minute speech she’d prepared and then the slideshow started.
A murmur of appreciation came from the few hundred sitting students.
Us and farm animals.
The gasps and oooh’s grew.
A baby turtle.
Ahhhh’s and someone even clapped.
By the time the screen had worked through the platypus to the seal colony off Tasmania’s southern end there were several dozen WOW’s clearly audible through the chorus of excited kids.
Contrary to what you’d think if you happened to be in our house when we confiscate iPads and kick our kids outside, they love getting amongst things. Talking to my lot about nature and how plants have evolved to be eaten, so they can have their seeds spread about is interesting while we’re planting seedlings or watering the garden, in a way it can’t be at a desk.
On our travels, homeschooling the kids sitting at tables and hitting the books were the days we all dreaded the most, whereas the days we visited botanical gardens or marched them into cave systems or bushranger hideouts – these days weren’t even considered schooling despite they probably took away a lot more from them. They were moving, they were engaged, they were learning.
They were just having fun.
Some teachers know this only too well. That’s why they occasionally have a class sitting under a tree. There’s something about getting the blood pumping through young veins and seeing the colour of the sky which puts us all in more of a mood for taking in information. Experiencing something is why people travel and don’t just settle for staring at a brochure. We humans like to get amongst it.
To drive home this message of getting our kids outdoors to experience all the benefits of play and learning outside, Nature Play with support from OMO is promoting Outdoor Classroom Day for Thursday the 1st November, to showcase to children, teachers and parents how good outdoor play and learning can be for one day so we can get to a point where it can be a part of EVERY day. Currently only 1 in 6 primary school children learn outdoors each day and, even more worrying, 2 in 3 kids spend under an hour a day playing outdoors.
That last point is clearly insane.
I’m not the sort of person who thinks it’s up to teachers to do the job of parents. We all need to encourage our kids outside and into the world – during their ‘home’ time, but also we need to show teachers we support it in schools too. I really do think the benefits of outdoor lessons is worth pushing for, daily The research shows kids can learn more when they learn outdoors – so why wouldn’t you back this? Anything to light that spark. Hopefully, with enough enquiries and encouragement from keen parents, on this one day primary schools around the country will give this a go and experience for themselves how outdoor learning can improve teamwork, social skills and a child’s love of learning.
Judging by the gasps and excitement Miss11’s presentation drew out of her school assembly, the kids are chomping at the bit to get amongst it. Like, who would rather read about the local ecosystem when you can step outside and witness it, up close and personal?
Miss11’s little pre-presentation speech: Hi. Me and my family spent around 18 months travelling Australia in an old converted school bus. We still haven’t done it all yet but we have been in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and parts of South Australia. We have been down mines, looked for opals in mullock heaps, been inside sink holes and zip lined over a crocodile. We drove the equivalent of going back and forth from here to Brisbane around 100 times. And the bus goes so slowly we might as well have ran around Australia. We have been to the Australian War Memorial, science centres and heaps of farms.
Then she stepped back and let the snapshots below tell our story.
Raising a family on little more than laughs
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