Stramash was recently featured as a case study in Nursery World Magazine talking about the importance of non verbal communication.
“What we say to children in their formative years can influence their thoughts and feelings about themselves, but our behaviour towards them, each other and the world in general has even more of an impact, says Jess Greenhill, outdoor practitioner at Stramash Social Enterprise, which runs four outdoor nurseries in Scotland.
Stramash practitioners keep a close eye on children to give advice where needed, but ensure their body language gives a child the message that they are trusted. ‘With rough-and-tumble play, for example, we would observe, maybe get a bit closer, checking everyone is still consenting, but not wade in straight away,’ she says. ‘We are saying we are here, you are in a safe space, if you are not happy you can catch my eye and I will step in.’
A practitioner’s behaviour and body language will depend on how a child is feeling in a specific situation. ‘On one day a child might want to explore alone, on another day they might want to hold a hand – we are not pushing them into something they are not ready for.’
At Stramash, practitioners model resilience and self-care by their behaviour, for example around their reactions to weather conditions. ‘If it is raining, we put our hoods up and carry on as normal, showing we can still have fun in more challenging weather,’ says Ms Greenhill.
Young children are natural scientists, and an adult’s reaction to the natural world can either nurture that scientific curiosity or encourage fear and disgust. ‘We sometimes come across dead animals,’ says Ms Greenhill. ‘You could be freaked out, but how we react in that moment is an incredible opportunity for learning. Assuming it is not too far gone, I will put gloves on, explain to the children why you don’t pick it up with bare hands, and we will take an up-close look at it, and discuss what might have happened, like a mini-CSI.’