Explore Learn Connect
Explore and Play is a way to bring back the outdoor free play that previous generations had granted and that slowly has declined over the past thirty years (Departement of Environment 1973).
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are working to transform Explore and Play in order to meet the new safety measures while ensuring that we can still enjoy the essence of the session.
We are slowly moving our focus on the mental wellbeing of the wider community, and we think that free unstructured time in nature is more than ever, very important.
Now that many children are at home, the core values of the session can be embraced and replicated anywhere.
However, school is due to reopen and so we need to think about what’s next.
School is indeed facing a huge change.
The social distancing rules and the safety measures that have to be introduced to accommodate children and provide education during this crisis will have a huge impact on the school community.
We know that teachers will do their best to keep the stress to a minimum.
We also know that to ensure the safety of pupils and staff, many important aspects of school have to be put on hold.
Assembly, singing sessions, or the use of certain equipment, will be forbidden for the time being. This along with the removal of many toys or shared spaces are just an example.
The risk assessment that has to be put in place by the school will be full of little changes that will create a much less warm and child-centered environment.
We still don’t know what impact this will have on our school community’s mental and physical health, but we know for sure that this can be mitigated by following some simple steps, such as ensure the adequate free play in nature as often as possible.
To start, we suggest reading the very useful guidelines put together by Clare Claro, founder of Nature Play.
Then we ask you to commit to having at least one session per week.
The session has to happen in nature and you’ll simply need to…let it go.
Don’t plan, don’t propose an activity. Start from simple things such as breathing and listening to the sound of nature.
Let your children play.
But what sort of play?
We support child-led play, the sort of play that empowers the child by letting her grow into her capabilities.
Children will benefit from this session because:
- It helps to build resilience.
- It helps developing creativity and critical thinking.
- It improves the general wellbeing.
- It helps to mitigate the after-school restraint collapse and for those at home it helps to mitigate the isolation effects.
Make yourself comfortable. Let your breath flow. In from your nose, out from your mouth. Imagine bright pastel color air going in. Give your stress and negative thoughts a dark colour and let them go out through your breath. Do it for 3 to 5 minutes.
03. Slow down
This is your moment, there is no rush. Slow down, listen, look, smell. Sit down and enjoy the colours of nature. Or keep walking till your legs ask for it. Try to be in this very moment.
Take a walk and observe the environment. Let nature reveal itself. Look on the ground and focus on the life that you can see there. Then move to the sky and keep your eyes on the clouds or the canopy. Be curious. Go further.
Connect to nature. Connect to yourself. Connect to those with you. A good exchange of energy and good intentions will build a better tomorrow.
Explore and Play and outdoor hub ground rules.
Here are a few ground rules that we suggest to adopt when out and about:
- Wear weather-appropriate clothing, footwear, and protective equipment. Go out in any weather unless extreme. There is nothing better than jumping in paddles under the rain.
- Bring water and healthy snacks. While out and about it is important to keep our physiological needs met.
- Leave behind screens and toys. Nature offers plenty of natural loose parts that will engage your children’s imagination. It is also a good opportunity to go screen-free and have a bit of social media detox.
- Make sure you take your rubbish with you. Leave no trace.