In The Garden
“It is the joy and exuberance that becomes so noticeable when children are playing in nature, becoming co-inhabitants of the space and totally integrated with the cycles, interrelationships and magic. It is the awe and wonder that connects, surprises and gives children that sparkle in their eyes. Without this connection, life can be very different, and I believe all the poorer.“
Sarah Blackwell – Forest Schools Kindergarten – Founder
Here at The Children's Garden, we believe that nature and the outdoors is both nurturing, therapeutic, educational and the perfect place for children to learn and grow as they explore the environment, their world and their place within it.
Woodlands and outdoor spaces develop an inquisitive mind, a strong body and sound social and emotional skills. With over twenty years' experience in both the outdoors and early years, a move to Norfolk sparked the search for a special site which would enable us to offer the type of experience that we truly believe in.
What we have found has exceeded our wildest dreams. A huge, magical walled garden, surrounded by beautiful woodland, forms the basis of our setting. We have also bought the attached buildings which have been converted to provide everything that your child needs from a day nursery. We have a large tipi and a yurt in the garden, both with a cosy wood burner, for time spent under cover - although quite often the children are so happy running along our box-hedged paths, climbing on logs and feeding the chickens that they won't want to go inside!
Forest School Leader Kristin Braithwaite, together with our other outdoors' staff, runs our outdoors programme. Our Montessori ethos means that we believe in children as innately curious about their world; so we prepare an environment which will foster enthusiasm and deeper enquiry. Children who attend our Nursery and Forest School are confident and joyful, truly blossoming as the weeks progress; they are empowered to be self-directive, analytical thinkers as they manage risks and discover their own capabilities.
We have two wonderful Garden Educators, Carl, who is a dad himself and James. They work with the children to maintain and enhance this amazing natural space, including the production and harvesting of fruit and vegetables.
The Walled Garden is the main base for our children aged 28 months+. The garden environment and connected buildings are planned so there are 'creative spaces' manned by staff to facilitate our Reggio Emilia-inspired approach. The core spaces are: Loose Parts, The Stage, Outside Living Room, Tipi, Mud Kitchen, Yurt, Art Room and the Dining Room/Children's kitchen. The children have their own Boot/Kit Room where they can access their outside clothing and then they follow their own interests and can move between the 'spaces' as their own motivation dictates. We have some staff in 'floating' roles to keep an eye on the general flow of the children. Each child is also part of a Forest Family (a group of children with one Key Person). This staff member regularly checks in with their Forest Family children to ensure they are engaged and their levels of wellbeing are high.
And children that spend a lot of time outdoors? “Their eyes are bright. They’ve got an aliveness about them. They are fully engaged and want to explore the natural world. They are quick to laugh and all of their senses are sharpened.”
Ciara Hinksman - Earthforce Education