23 Oct Peak Moments – By Maria Taylor, Nature Play SA Education Manager
“It’s full of knots. Keeps falling apart. I can’t fly it.”
It’s lunchtime, and Mark* has been trying to fly a kite for a while now. His patience is wearing thin and the clock is ticking. Five more minutes of playtime to either finish on a win and watch it soar or crumble in a heap, kite and all.
A moment of silence is followed by his words, “Keep trying. I can deal with it.”
Two minutes later, off he runs with kite sky high. The joy on his upturned face is priceless – a peak moment for us both.
NOT ALL MOMENTS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Chip and Dan Heath (authors of The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact) argue that moments matter with ‘people’s most positive moments sharing common traits such as elevation or being lifted out of the ordinary. Traits such as insight (shaping the way we see the world) and connection (deepening our ties with others).’
When we take children away on camps, give them a day out of the classroom to explore their local environment, or participate in a nature play festival on school grounds, we provide a platform for peak moments.
As Chip and Dan Heath say, ‘we can be the designers of moments that deliver elevation and insight and pride and connection. These exceptional minutes and hours and days—they are what make life meaningful. And they are ours to create.’
School communities, post-COVID-19, are playing catch up in many ways. School camps, excursions, and ‘days done differently’ have all taken a backseat in 2020, but now, more than ever, they are needed. And thankfully, this spring, they are returning.
Throughout these day camps and festivals, I see students of all ages having fun. I hear teachers talking to children away from desks, classrooms, computers, and checklists. I witness the buzz of anticipation and conversation, and I feel something permeating these days too – a sense of breathing out and permission to be in the moment.
During COVID, we found that curriculum wasn’t enough. What was missing in the removal of school grounds was connection and relationship.
Schools are communities and communities offer connection.
THE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM – A PLACE FOR CONNECTION AND COMMUNITY
On Thursday 5 November, schools around Australia will celebrate Outdoor Classroom Day.
An outdoor classroom offers a platform for memorable moments, connection, and community to all come together. There is something magical about the mixture of putting children in open-air environments and giving them opportunities for meaningful, open-ended learning.
Unfortunately, a feeling of magic simply doesn’t cut it these days. We know it’s more than good practice, but we need to show that it works with numbers, spreadsheets, data, and evidence. That’s ok too, because global research is steadily validating that delivering lessons outdoors improves both the engagement and attainment of students. Therefore, quality improvement plans, literacy and numeracy goals, and student and adult well-being needs can firmly sit alongside robust learning in the great outdoors.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT
Overall, better outcomes for all students gives us the ‘why.’ The small, dedicated team at Nature Play SA can help develop pathways for the ‘how.’
If you’re interested in developing your own platform for peak moments, I can firmly say that taking learning outdoors provides them. If you need support figuring out what that looks like, sign up for Outdoor Classroom Day and give it a go on 5 November. Alternatively, get in touch with our education team to make your outdoor classroom day every day.