Spring time in New Zealand is when we get to see babies of all shapes and sizes being born all over the country. One or our teachers finds orphan lambs most years to bring in to Kinderen so our children can start to learn about caring for animals, life cycles and being brave to try new things.
This year we have enjoyed lots of little white Romney and Perindale lambs and even a black faced Dorpet came to spend some time in the centres.
The lambs wear nappies at Kinderen to keep our playgrounds hygienic and this is of great interest to children!
Some of the children can be a little bit afraid of the lambs to start with and it is wonderful to see them grow more confident and enjoy spending time playing with these animals. We often hear the children laugh out loud as they witness lambs learning to jump and run in the playground.
The children all love to help feed the lambs their bottles and it is a fun way to learn all the incidental concepts and skills that children are constantly acquiring e.g. social skills (taking turns, leadership, helping others), fine and gross motor skills (holding bottles steady), science (holding the bottle at the angle that has milk at the lambs mouth), and lots and lots of language.
Our Forest trips are founded on the theoretical influences of scholars, as far back as the 18th century, who believed in the importance of children playing and learning outdoors in order to improve their physical, cognitive, social and spiritual well-being. Being outside in the open air and having access to green spaces has obvious benefits to growing healthy, strong bodies and reducing stress. Experiencing wind, rain and sun gives children firsthand knowledge and experience about keeping themselves healthy. Gaining real knowledge about their world and putting this into practice gives children confidence in their abilities in other areas.
The lessons we wish to teach children about the natural world around them weaves together with the Māori belief in the interconnectedness of people and the earth we came from. All things are united through mauri (life force) and the concept of hauora (total well-being and balance with nature) is highly valued. Whanaungatanga, where all people embrace each other through the wider family relationships, extends to the earth and people respectfully expressing kaitiakitanga (guardianship) towards all living things.
Spending time in the natural environment positively affects EVERY AREA of child development, the more variety encountered, the more children will learn. Being outside fulfils children’s need for freedom and adventure, it supplies them with the opportunities to assess and experience risk, assessing risk when they are young enables children to learn how to problem-solve and make safe and logical choices. The environment a child spends time in is fundamental to creating the peace, harmony and beauty needed for nourishing the whole child.