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PLAYGROUND Outdoor schooling has many benefi ts, from making learning more memorable to enhancing focus and academic performance. It also teaches kids to be active. Kate Cracknell reports

Q&A WITH ANN GLASER

Head of Tiny Treks Washington State, US What is Tiny Treks?

Tiny Treks is an outdoor school, founded in the United States 19 years ago, with sites in California and Washington State, where my school is. It offers programme of guided learning for young children which takes place exclusively outdoors. We take children from the age of two, starting off in our Parent Child Programme. We all go out for an hour and a half every week – each child with a parent – to explore and understand the natural world together. We go to a different park, lake or farm every week and I choose a theme according to what’s there. So for example, if I know a particular farm has a beaver dam, my theme might be beavers. We’ll talk about what a beaver is, where they live, we go see the dam and we talk about how they live. And it isn’t just the kids who learn. Probably without the parents even realising it, I’m teaching them things they can do with their children outdoors, and I’m showing them places they didn’t even realise were there. The success of that programme led to us launching a programme for three- to five-year-olds. With this age group, we go out twice a week for three hours at a time. We don’t do paper or pens. We don’t work on ABCs or 123s – it’s truly a forest kindergarten and, although we talk about what we’re seeing, it’s largely experiential. It’s about being deeply in nature, feeling and figuring out what to do.

What’s the idea behind Tiny Treks?

At the heart of it is a desire for children to fall in love with nature, but we also believe it’s really important for

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children to see adults doing real physical work. We’re all so busy nowadays. We have our cleaners, our gardeners. But we’re busy sitting at our desks. Kids don’t ever see their parents doing physical work in the way previous generations have done. They’re not seeing us digging the soil or chopping wood, so they aren’t learning that they need to move, to use their bodies. At Tiny Treks we’re all out there together, digging, weeding, planting seeds on the farm. The kids see us being enthusiastic when shoots of plants are coming through and that enthusiasm rubs off on them. They see us

Kids don’t see their parents doing physical work in the way previous generations have done, so they aren’t learning that they need to move, to use their bodies Ann Glaser, Tiny Treks

Profile for Leisure Media

HealthClubManagement September 2016  

Health Club Management is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.

HealthClubManagement September 2016  

Health Club Management is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.