Munchkinlands Out and About

Check our calendar for the Wednesday morning Munchkinland programs where will be venturing to the forest outside.  We will be going out in most weather….good or bad.  We are excited to share the good fortune of living where we do: this beautiful island!

Please read this outdoor risk management document for parents before participating.

ML_Outside

Reasons Why…..

Our current Munchkinlands are filled with the wonder of imagination and opportunities to play, which is the very important work that our children do in order to grow and develop.  The environment is set up in a way that parents/caregivers can comfortably join in that play, model an open playful manner and engage in a fun way with their child.  So much learning is happening through those wonderful interactions!

The Munchkinland programs are not reasonably set up for intrinsic physical play, another very important area of development.  In addition, the outdoor areas are very much a blank slate.  We at BLT, want to balance our program offerings by adding an outdoor, natural element to the complement of child development prospects.

Our latest Early Development Index reports that the Oceanside area has high vulnerability ratings in the areas of physical development and in social emotional development.

In the current digital and cyber realities, we are rapidly losing that vital human contact with each other and with what feeds and sustains us – our earth.   We would like to offer children the opportunity to be surrounded by nature as a way of learning, growing, and being in touch with themselves and the world around them.  We want parents/caregivers to also experience the same learning, growing and being in touch with themselves and the world around them.  This would be connecting in its most basic form.  A form some of us are sorely lacking.

We want everyone including children to remember that we are all stewards of this land.  We want that “caring for nature” knowledge to be common for the families and children in Oceanside.  Our local First Nations culture teaches the honouring of this earth, and how to not only protect it, but to also work with it; to share its gifts that help to nourish and nurture us.  We want to learn from those ancient teachings.

Principles

  • Provide opportunities for discovery, exploration and learning in a natural setting that is child directed, physically challenging and that builds relationships.
  • Provide a diversity of learning and teachings from local culture and other community resources.
  • Promote stewardship and respect of land and water.
  • Encourage awareness and exploration of local natural areas.
  • Encourage parents/caregivers to spend more time outside with their children.
  • Offer safe risk taking opportunities for children.
  • Support and encourage relationships and connections with each other and with the earth.

Goals

  • One day per week we will hold Munchkinland in a local natural setting. Both Qualicum and Parksville will partake in this endeavor.
  • There will be an organized plan in regards to where we are going, why we are going there and what opportunities might be there (being prepared).
  • We will do this outreach using the natural surroundings to provide the learning tools that we need (no additional toys or program supplies will be added without careful consideration).
  • We will use photographs and documentation to record this pilot project and use the information for learning and evaluation.
  • We will engage other community partners in this process.
  • We will bring our experiences into our other programs to share and evaluate.
  • We will continue to communicate the educational benefits of this program.

 Benefits

  • Children who regularly play outdoors have decreased chance of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, and they have better balance, physical stamina and gross motor skills. (O’Brien & Murray, 2007) (Fjørtoft, 2004) (Burdette H.L. 2005)
  • Many children in N.A. are deficient in Vitamin D which can be rectified by more outdoor time and exposure to sun  (Mansbach, 2009)
  • Nature and outdoor play has been shown to decrease symptoms of ADD, ADHD, anxiety and depression
  • Children who are involved in outdoor programs, show improved high cognitive skills and score better on standardized test. They have better focus, problem solving and multi-tasking skills; and are better able to think critically and creatively (Atchley, 2012) (Berman, 2008) (Bartosh, 2003) (Ernst, 2004)
  • Outdoor learning and play helps children develop a positive sense of self, intrinsic motivation and respect for themselves, others and the environment (O’Brien & Murray, 2007) (Louv, 2011) (Russell, 2013)

 

Thanks to Victoria Nature School website for providing the benefits and research references.