BBC News – Forest play aids nursery children’s mediation skills

01/03/2012 8:08

Not a bit of soft fall…unless you count the original…nor piece of set equipment in sight.

Excerpts below -the full article can be read from the link above. 

A trial of outdoor learning in the woods designed to promote independent play in nursery children led to them learning to solve disputes themselves. The Pontycymer Nursery youngsters were part of a test project in Bridgend.

The children were encouraged to play together and with materials such as buckets and trowels and were discreetly observed by staff.  ……..At their first Play Project session, the children were taught how to carry out a simple risk assessment of the woodland and given basic resources such as buckets, ropes, trowels, mud and water to encourage them to start playing.

The resources were reduced each week until the children just used what they could find in the woods to interact with and use in their games. Part of the philosophy behind the project is modelled on outdoor learning in Sweden, which aims to encourage independent learning.

……She said of the mediation skills the children started showing: “The conflict resolution came along during the project. Withdrawing adult-led interaction, it was a byproduct of the process.

….The children learned “how to negotiate with each other to get an agreed outcome” and were “finding out about becoming more resilient when things don’t go their way. …..”These are important lifelong skills that we hope will remain with these youngsters long after.”

Lynne Walsh from Pontycymer Nursery said they hoped the project would foster a lifelong interest for the children in the natural world, and respect for the environment……She said of the project: “The children have grown in confidence over the weeks and are able to implement conflict resolution strategies independently.”  Ms Prior said it was also helping their social development and they were becoming “increasingly creative with the natural resources available to them.”
Tess Michaels