As I begin down the Siolta road, I find myself thinking a lot about the environments I provide for the children. In many ways I am blessed in this respect. I have a pretty big house in the countryside with a large garden which is so important to me as I really feel that children need to spend time outdoors every day.
The ‘back’ garden which is actually to the front of the house (which is ”L’ shaped and sort of wraps around the garden but has the road to the back of it, sorry if thats confusing!) is fenced on three sides and open to a courtyard on the fourth. We are in a lovely secluded area and there is usually nothing but the sounds of birds and children to be heard.
In the garden we have a wooden tree house which the older children use as a den. This provides their much needed privacy and the sense that they have a space which is ‘off limits’ to the adults. They have decorated it themselves and they spend many a happy hour there, playing games, listening to music, doing homework (ok, maybe not always so happy).
The ‘first storey’ of this building is a space for the toddlers which consists of some log benches, arranged in a semi-circle to provide for conversation, and a waterproof mat for those who wish to sit on the floor. And thats it. And this space gets tons of use too, the occupants usually consist of the three year old and the 16 month old, using it as an extension of the beloved play house, which is a little pokey when they want to play together.
Another popular environment in the garden is the sand pit. I wrote with amazement a few weeks back about the wide range of age groups that find a use for it here. In the past few months children aged from a few months to 12 years have found a way to play here. It really is amazing the calming affect it has on them, but if you try it for yourself, you begin to see the attraction, just drawing a rake through it is akin to meditation. For more on this topic see Janet Lansbury’s post
This post has been edited for use on a public blog.