It was their squeals of laughter and animated conversation that drew me near. The children were mixing the soil and water, carting it from one side of the path to the other using the wheel barrows.  On the surface it was just a group of children having fun.  But their learning was much deeper and richer today because of the Nature Play offered at Balaklava Community Children’s Centre.

Nature Play invites children in. It is accessible to all, enables rich sensory experiences and a freedom to follow personal interest, alone or with others, to negotiate, converse, problem solve and experiment. The natural elements offer children more than an opportunity to immerse themselves in play rich in learning. It offers them life experiences in which they can develop dispositions for life such as curiosity, perseverance and resourcefulness.

Having been engaged in an enquiry project into Engaging families in their children’s learning throughout 2016, BCCC educators found that delivering key messages to families through Nature Play resulted in greater participation and interest. We were pleased to again be approached this year  by the Department for Education and Child Development, along with the other Preschools in the Lower Mid North Partnership (Owen, Hamley Bridge, Pt Wakefield, Riverton and Saddleworth) to be involved in   the Common Approach Supported Playgroup trials. Playgroups aimed at strengthening partnerships with families around their child’s learning and development have been established across the LMN Partnership. Balaklava Community Children’s Centre is fortunate to now run 2 Playgroups. Viewing Playgroup as an important outreach service, BCCC invites all families to participate every Tuesday in the Nature’s Playgroup (9:30am -11:30am) and Friday’s Literacy-based Playgroup (9:45am-11:45am)during school terms. Based on the Common Approach framework, the Playgroups are founded on 4 principles of practice: child focused, strengthbased, holistic and partnerships.