The joy of watching things float away!
As I watched the children playing in the stream today I suddenly realised both how much these kids are learning as they play in the water, but also how intangible that learning is. There is no way to measure or record this sort of free play, to quantify what is taking place in terms of the child's development. But I have absolutely no doubt that the learning going on in our stream today was of the 'hugely important sort'. As you watch you can see ideas and theories formed and then tested. Personal comfort zones explored, problems solved and interpersonal interactions tested. One little girl spent over half an hour throwing bottles containing food dyed water into the stream. Over and over and over. As an adult watching on it is easy to theorise that she is learning about flight paths, trajectories and speed, that she was testing her strength and practising her aim. Or maybe she was just totally immersed in the joy of seeing things splash. The thing is we'll never know. But we do know that she had fun! That's the really great thing about being a toddler group (as opposed to a formal learning setting) is we have no need to justify what we do beyond the fact that the kids love it. That for us is justification enough!
It is clear that not everybody who visits the group understands what it is we do here. Many many families only come the once, whilst others become huge fans and return week after week after week. But it is nearly impossible to tell into which category families will fall when you first meet them. It seems that when it comes to enjoying free play in the stream and woods there is no stereotype. We love it that way...but it does make advertising the group tricky when we have no idea where to 'find' people! I have to keep reminding myself that it is still only March and we have only been running properly for about 10 weeks so there is plenty of time for us to build our numbers...but still I worry that we won't have enough families to keep us solvent through the winter months. So if you're local and have enjoyed the group, or think you know somebody who would, please spread the word! We have leaflets which you can have to hand out and posters to go in shop/car windows, all we need now is an army of willing volunteers to deliver them!