The KinderGarden™ program recognises the important role that learning and experiences in early years have in shaping later life outcomes.
KinderGarden™ is a project by Fleming’s designed to replace the plastic outdoor environment of many childcare, kindergarten and schools, with natural, plant driven and imagination evoking play-scapes..
Most children today spend a significant portion of their first five years in the childcare and kindergarten environment.
This environment will therefore be important in shaping children’s well-being, learning, behaviour and development. An examination of the modern childcare centre reveals a largely ‘de-natured environment’ that provides children with only limited access to natural elements. Although there are a number of factors that have contributed to this, the elimination of perceived risk seems to be a major factor.
Sticks, rocks and plants have been removed along with traditional organic soft fall. These have been replaced with synthetic soft fall surfaces and plastic equipment that offers limited challenge. These modern play structures are also quite directive in the way that they are used and provide little creative and imaginative play opportunities.
Heat, sun and drought have also influenced the design decisions made for these environments. The recent and long term drought made the maintenance of natural turf difficult, so synthetic options were introduced.
There has also been an increased public awareness of the risks of UV exposure, so large built structures have been introduced as a way to eliminate exposure to sun. This has further limited the options for natural living elements to be included in the play spaces, and in some cases has been extreme enough to raise concerns about too little exposure to sunlight and the associated conditions of Vitamin D deficiency and depression.
The KinderGarden™ program aims to provide a starting point for childcare and early learning centres to begin addressing some of the deficiencies that currently exist in their outdoor play spaces.
A completed KinderGarden™ should provide a multitude of possibilities for educators and staff to increase both the quality and quantity of time that children spend in the outdoors.
It should allow an expansion of class plans and programs to introduce many of the projects that have been regarded as indoor activities into the outdoor realm.
Providing children with access to natural materials is an important part of the KinderGarden™ program. Particularly with young children the variations in texture that natural elements can offer is a wonderful learning and experiential opportunity.
Rough, smooth, soft, hard, flexible, solid, cool, warm, wet, dry can all be found easily in the natural elements. Other senses, such as smell can also be explored in a natural context. Herbs are a great means for providing a lot of different scents in a relatively small space.
In addition to including natural materials within the outdoor play space, providing the opportunity for children to feel and interact with the natural elements is also a key goal of the KinderGarden™ program.
Feeling the warmth of winter sun, the chill of a blustery breeze, the sensation of rain, the splash of a puddle, the noise of hail and the feel of hailstones or frost are all things that most adults take for granted, and yet a large percentage of young children have been ‘protected’ from these experiences.
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How Do I find out more about achieving a Fleming’s KinderGarden™?
Contact Fleming’s Direct on (03) 9756 6105 or email : firstname.lastname@example.org