The Orchard at Landbeach is a special place where we take the toddler and preschool children everyday. Much of our inspiration behind this is the Forest School practices of the Scandinavian countries.

In this area they can experience a much wilder environment than in the confines of our relatively manicured and controlled garden. They don’t have the usual garden toys of trikes, sandpit, and balls; rather they use all the resources available in the orchard, with the addition of only a few extras, such as string, buckets and spades.

This is childhood as many people think it should be; children developing their physical and social skills by following their own ideas, supported by adults who are interested in them and what they think.

Going everyday means that the children feel a true sense of ownership over the area which they can never achieve if they only go once a week. They aren’t visitors to the orchard, they are curators and can make their own changes, which they can see day on day.

They start to really observe the flora and fauna, from picking and eating the fruit to finding insects and seeing the changes in the environment over the course of a week, a month or a year. They collect things, often bringing them back to nursery.

They will climb trees. Most are very wary at first and require a lot of adult encouragement and support. Although we don’t ‘lift them up’ we do point out footholds that have worked for others or that climbing down the reverse route usually works. They play hide and seek, small world imaginative or role-play games, build dens and expand into camouflage games and treasure hunts. We create outdoor art by decorating or creating with objects found in the orchard, and use paints from berries.

What if the weather is bad? Even better — more chances to get involved with different activities. We play with snow, rain drops in the trees and fallen leaves.

As they spend more time there they start to take ownership of the area, gaining in confidence and playing in their favourite areas in a more focussed way. Most of all though, they have time to play and enjoy the natural environment, to be there as the seasons change with adults who are there for support or information when needed but allow the children to play without imposing an end goal upon them.

In short they can just be children.

Thank you for reading my blog, and to the wonderful Alice Chapman Photography for all the fabulous photo’s.

With our pre-schoolers heading off to school in September, we have child spaces in both our Landbeach and Wilburton settings, so why not come and have a look around. Visit our Beach Babies Facebook page for more information?

Did you know we are on Instagram too? Check us out @beachbabiesnursery