Community, outdoor environments and food stimulating optimal learning environments in Denmark
Institutions: St Paul’s Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Redcliffe Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Knowle West Nursery School and Children’s Centre and Rosemary Nursery School and Children’s Centre
Status: Findings published
In 2015 a group of early years practitioners from Bristol visited Denmark for a study tour. The following observations were made by Emma Butcher from Redcliffe Nursery and Children’s Centre.
- Community – seeing how one Danish Kindergarten had used their landscape of being near the sea was a stimulus for us to think about how we could exploit our position in Bristol near the harbour, which is currently slightly elitist and an underused resource with only children of parents who can afford for their children to join sailing clubs experiencing harbour life. We have a vision of adding harbour experience to our provision at Redcliffe – taking trips on the taxi boats and even eventually aiming to have regular boat experiences where the boat becomes a form of transport to access other parts of the City.
- Outdoors, nature and sustainability – we were surprised by how much we already do with this and how influential our practice has been for Bristol with our forest experience and the research and qualifications. This has also inspired me to continue to use Bristol as a resource for our children and families – going on spontaneous trips around the city and helping children to be visible in Bristol – which fits with the values Denmark appears to have with taking children seriously and children being absolute citizens in their own right. I think my Master’s dissertation may focus on this. This is possibly also more sustainable than regularly visiting natural spaces that have been depleted by huge influxes of visitors. It was heart-warming to learn of the Danish Governmental policy of ALL kindergartens having a commitment to nature, all weathers and large outdoor spaces in their provision- something worth challenging here- where the outdoor culture is very different and small outdoor spaces are unquestioned.
- Food as culture – we were able to reflect on how much our nursery school does with children around food, learning through and about food. Our meal times are also a crucial part of the day – it would be great to develop this as a more standard and basic right for all nursery children across Bristol.
- I was also influenced by one Danish speaker saying that they aimed to have an ‘educator’ (teaching focus) at all times of kindergarten day so consistency of approach and status of learning were always visible. This has raised a question around wraparound care etc.