acepuppets

Archive for April 2015


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I have to say that I truly love my son’s school, they never cease to amaze me with their desire to promote natural learning as much as possible.  The school has a shiny new website that is updated regularly allowing parents to see exactly what their children are getting up to.  My latest visit to the Allithwaite CE School website informs me that they have developed a lovely quiet area with raised beds for planting food to harvest, a mud kitchen, outdoor games tables, benches and lots of wood chippings.  This information was reinforced when I picked my son up from after school club and he ran into the quiet area and with great excitement told me all about how they were going to grow food and how you can sit and relax with your friends.

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I am a firm believer that children need to find their own way to calm down, relax and find inner peace in their own way.  Learning to let go and let the chaos of the world clatter around you is a skill that is necessary in this technical age where everything is quantifiable and has to have been done yesterday.  The education system has forced schools to be concious of testing children so that they can gain a good OFSTED result so that pressure does inadvertently filter down to the children.  As someone who finds it impossible to switch off and truly relax I have been trying to encourage my son to develop these skills while he is young by allowing him to be a bit slobby at the weekends, not making a big deal about homework and spelling tests. I have told him that the holidays are a time to rest so that he can look forward to a break from intensive learning.

The outdoor games tables, which are similar to these by Playdale have made the quiet area look like a potential picnic area, where children can gather round and be sociable.  Even if there are not always dice and counters available the children will be able to look at and trace the numbers on the snakes and ladders board. My son has a great sense of ownership in regards to the school playground equipment and would quite happily sleep there if it meant that he could play with his friends even longer.

I am a little envious that they have installed a mud kitchen because making mud pies and playing with mud and soil was something I really liked to do when I was my son’s age.  My mum informs me that I when I was a child I could never wear my best clothes until just before we went out because I just got muddy and messy so easily.

It is going to be so exciting at Harvest time to see the vegetables they have grown.  My son just finds the world so very exciting and it is a joy to watch him learn and grow.

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When I ask my son what he has done at school each day I feel really sorry for the teachers because all he remembers is everything he has done at playtime and who he has fallen out with.  What he doesn’t say is that he enjoyed the English lesson that the teacher spent hours planning last week or that he felt fulfilled by the fact that he finally understood a mathematical concept that had been difficult to grasp.  At the moment the most exciting thing about school is the new sand pit and swing that has been fitted in the playground.  I am actually delighted that my son gets excited about such simple pleasures because it just goes to show that however enthralling a computer game is there is nothing like swinging in the air or sculpturing a fantasy land in a sandpit.

My son is a very cautious child who didn’t fall over very much when he was a toddler, however he seems to be collecting a lot of grazes and bruises on his legs at the moment indicating that he is getting more adventurous and daring.  I asked him if he could swing by himself and apparently he can swing three times by himself, which is fantastic.  If you look at the science of swinging it is amazing how much the body benefits from such a pleasurable activity.  Children also learn how to take turns and how to encourage each other to swing higher. If you also add the feeling of flying into the mix you can see why swings are still such popular pieces of playground equipment.

My son is also raving about the sandpit, which is pretty big and covered when not in use so that the local cats don’t contaminate it.  If there was a sandpit club after school my son would be first to put his name on the list, he totally loves constructing fantasy worlds, digging and covering himself with the little particles.  When my son started school the thing that made him very happy was the fact that the reception class could still play in sand during the day and on a visit he told the teacher that they needed to put more sand in the sand box.  He is in year one and sand play is not part of his curriculum so the sand pit in the playground is like a dream come true for him.

My son loves school and is always excited to arrive in the morning and reluctant to leave at the end of the day.  I only hope that he finds learning fun for the whole of his life.