Joy of ChallengesPosted on: 28th Sep 2021
It is fair to say that children, young persons and families alike will have had significant challenges during the last 18 months. Yet, as we point forward, with schools having returned to more normality for the Autumn term, there are far more exciting and uplifting challenges to be enjoyed by our children.
Whilst it will have been a tough time for so many families, one of the silver linings of the disruption has been a greater appreciation and connection with nature and outdoor activities; whether it be walks in the local woods, a greater uptake of exercise, or simply taking a quiet moment to appreciate some of the simple things in life.
Young children, in particular, have a great sense of adventure and immensely enjoy the simplicity of play and the outdoors. It has not been a surprise to read of all the mental health benefits for children afforded by this and it only takes a few minutes in a park to see that sense of fun, adventure and enjoyment of personal challenge.
Much research has been done that directly connects children’s ability to grasp new challenges with their life-long learning skills. Of course challenges take many forms, but the gross motor skills and awareness of the physical self are key components in development. As modern-day parents, we have a tendency to want to protect our children away from challenges and smooth the path ahead, yet resilience is best displayed when self-management and self-efficacy is learnt by our children.
One of the key determinants in later life success is this ability to apply what has been learnt through our childhoods into our adult lives. There are so many reports from City firms that bemoan top grade students, even from Russell Group universities, who have not embraced their personal development and do not have the resilience to deal with new challenges and who find there is not a textbook for every decision that needs to be made.
At Woodford Green Prep School, we are delighted to have recently completed the building of a new outdoor learning and play space. It has been designed by Earth Wrights, who are experts in children’s play and who have also been commissioned by places none other than Kew Gardens. It forms part of our commitment to being an urban school that reaches out into the local environment and we have been delighted to see how the children, from nursery up to Year 6, have loved this new opportunity.
A big thank you too, to our wonderful and active Parent Teacher Association who kindly funded a significant part of it. It has really connected with the children’s imagination and complements our outdoor learning opportunities, which include a wide range of sports, educational trips and visits to local woodlands. Our pupil council also made some fantastic suggestions for new clubs and so, this term, we have even started a mountain bike club.
I suspect that during the coming months, with the removal of class or year group ‘bubbles’, school children across the country will be reconnecting with one another, enjoying playtimes more fully and embracing all the fun and challenges with their learning. I wish each and every family the best of health and sense of adventure by whatever means available.
Headmaster Jonathan Wadge