Nepean Centre

Topic of the month (March 2016)

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Stepping into Nature

Whilst outdoors, children enjoy meandering over stepping stones, around flower beds, past the vegetable and herb gardens, and back again. They periodically stop to check the progress of the plants - touching the fragile, soft petals of the flowers, and smelling the herbaceous fragrances of the basil, mint, rosemary and parsley.

The restoration of the garden has been a work-in-progress with the pre-school children assisting in clearing the vegetable patch of weeds and overgrown tree branches in readiness for planting. Garden gloves were donned as they helped shovel fresh soil into planter pots and into the vegetable garden, with the final process being the sowing and planting of a variety of seedlings and seeds.

The children in the pre-school room participated in a discussion about what they thought the plants would need in order to grow, and reached the conclusion that water was definitely one of the components which the plants needed, with the other being sunshine. During the course of most mornings, Annie has had an army of willing participants armed with colourful watering cans diligently giving the various plants a much needed drink of water.

The resurgence of the Centre’s vegetable, herb and flower gardens has given the pre-school children ‘hands on’ experience in nurturing plants and connecting with nature. This has also been a stepping stone into learning about sustainable practices such as composting, reducing, re-using and recycling, through practical means, as they learn to sort through various containers and scraps, from their morning and afternoon tea and during lunch time, into the appropriate bins available on the food trolley. Group time reading about sustainability has been instrumental in sparking conversations about the larger environment and how we can all look after the world. Thus, the children have embarked on a journey into becoming socially responsible and have commenced learning how to show respect for the environment as they connect and contribute to their world.

WSI Kids Nepean is licensed for 40 children a day aged from 6 weeks to under 6 years of age.

We are open from 8 am – 6 pm Monday to Fridays

Centrelink offers a variety of financial support to assist with the cost of care for families who meet specific criteria.

Our friendly staff are here to answer any questions. You are welcome to call in any time.

Topic of the month (August)

The importance of outdoor play during winter

I know as a parent we may question, “Why is my child going outside today?”-during the winter months, but there are many benefits when our children engage in play. The key, of course, is to remember to dress appropriately! Providing the right clothing and footwear will not only keep children safe and warm, but will also alleviate any of your concerns. We are lucky to be in an ever-changing environment that presents children with nature that shows relationships with other living and non-living things. We want to present children with the opportunity to develop ‘an awareness of the impact of human activity on environments and the interdependence of living things’ (Early Years learning framework, Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world; Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment). Winter is a great time to see this and experience it.

Some benefits of being outdoors during winter include:
• Active play builds the child’s immune system, which along with fresh air, reduces the risk of becoming sick.
• Active play contributes to a healthy body weight and starts children on the path to an active lifestyle.
• As they play, children build up their strength and stamina, reduce body fat, decrease blood pressure and increase the healthy production of bone density and lipids (Southern, Loftin, Suskind, Udall, and Blecker, 1999; Strong et al, 2005)
• When children are active their blood circulates faster, warming their body more effectively.

Being outside allows children to be engaged in active play, something that being inside for too long restricts. Exercising while being engaged outside promotes a healthy lifestyle and gets your child moving. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, summer or winter, as long as it is not blizzard-like conditions, then children should get the opportunity to play, discover and grow! We should also remember that children are still growing during these months and prolonged sessions of inactivity are not helpful for their muscular development. During the colder winter months children are often restricted to playing indoors at home. Children of all ages enjoy and benefit from playing outdoors in all except the most extreme weather conditions. Daily outdoor play is healthy and burns energy. It gives children an opportunity for a change of environment, a balance in play and large muscle activities (gross-motor development).

Moving out into the fresh air is healthier for children than keeping them inside a closed building where germs can spread easily. For infants and toddlers, the chance to experience the elements in the safe confines of warm clothes or snuggly blankets and beanies, enhances their connections with nature and the environment. Free movement for young children brings joy (and stimulates a healthy appetite too!) and works towards supporting a strong sense of wellbeing. Younger children also need this freedom to move about, feel the cold air on their cheeks, and create body warmth through stimulating physical activity. For the pre-walker rugged up in a thick blanket outside watching the comings and goings of their peers, enjoying the smells and visual changes in the environment is as much their right as that of older children. Infants need to engage in experiences that connect them to their world. Therefore, it is essential to provide opportunities for outdoor play during their time in early childhood environments.