Catholic Education South Australia
23 Nov 2016
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The Early Childhood Centre carries out the Pope’s work!

The Pope’s passion for nature and the outdoors was a focus of Nazareth Catholic Community’s (NCC) work in 2016. In the Early Childhood Centre (ECC) children as young as 15 months are responsible for their corner of the community, for their water usage and they take seriously our shared responsibility to care for God’s creation.

From where the outdoor learning space was twelve months ago to now, the community can stand back and say, “it was good but now, it is amazing!”

Children, families, educators, the chef and NCC maintenance team contributed to the transformation. Cooks, Scott and Ilona, worked with the children on the foods to plant in the plot to plate garden, and staff and children planted vegetables that are used in the children’s meals.

Educators observed what children did, looked at the lay of the land and the nature of the play and developed mud maps for consideration. Nazareth’s partnership and involvement with the Rosewater Trade Training Centre was developed and the ‘big Naz students’, who are undertaking VET qualifications, made equipment for the little Naz children!

Tess Harford, Director of the ELC, is delighted with the development:

“We now have stages, platforms, bridges and a cubby house. We have an outdoor learning environment that is risky, engaging and fun, it invites creativity, problem solving, collaboration and curiosity,” she said.

“In my time at the ECC it has become obvious to me that I live in a world that is fanatical about sanitization. Earlier this year, I presented a paper at a PlayWork Conference where I spoke about the importance of play, of getting dirty and of letting children do what they are born to do – play!” Tess said.

“At the ELC are children who love being outdoors, who are not afraid of getting dirty and who love a challenge and the community is on board.  Even though the clothes at the end of the day can be very muddy – the experience, smiles, learning and day to day adventures of our young people make it truly worthwhile!” she said.


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