Gowrie Training & Consultancy went to visit the Muddy Puddles Childcare & Early Learning (birth – 12 years) to see their newly re-developed playground.
Upon arriving at Muddy Puddles Childcare & Early Learning you are greeted by the majestic landscape that surrounds the service. The sound of birds, the cool breath of a winters breeze and the echoes of children’s voices, are an enlivening invitation to see what’s happening behind the doors.
Once inside you are greeted by warm, friendly and inviting educators – with the occasional hello from passing children.
The interior of the building is warm and comforting, and the natural and neutral colours create an inherent softness to the indoor environment. The outdoors environment is alive with energy and adventure. Children are engaged, playful and purposeful. There was a harmonious collective of children and educators at play. This is where I am warmly greeted by owner/director Tanya Clark.
Tanya has been educating children for nearly 20 years, starting in Family Day Care. This was inspired by her son’s Family Day Carer who invited Tanya to become an Educator. In 2014 Tanya realised the need for a larger service which still offered intimate and unique education and care with customer service at its heart; delivered by a compassionate and cohesive team. Muddy Puddles came about in October 2015. Whilst talking with Tanya it became evident that the children had autonomy over their outdoor environment which the educators respected and encouraged.
This is a space made for children, and the children own it.
During our conversation, Tanya explained to me the changes that had been made to the outdoor setting happened during Christmas and the New Year 2017/18. The educators and Tanya really value the importance of nature and the role it plays in children’s wellbeing and development. Being surrounded by nature was not enough, and they wanted it embedded in their practice; so the children had the opportunity every day to engage with their natural world.
Prior to the re-development, many conversations had taken place about a revamp to the outdoor space and Tanya was in talks with a landscaper. She realised that the envisaged changes were of great significance and required immediate attention.
This spurred Tanya on to make the changes, with the help of a friend, and in the holidays, she set to work. When the children returned from their Christmas break they came back to purposeful outdoor play spaces.
‘The children love the new play space and environment’ Tanya revealed. The new outdoor play area focuses on using natural material and plants to create specific play spaces and stimulate the imagination.
The use of recycled material was sourced to give children the opportunity to explore loose parts, and to ignite their creativity and curiosity in the outdoors.
During my time in the playground, the children proudly showed me their favourite spaces and encouraged me to take photos of the areas that gave them the most joy. It was a pleasure collaborating with them in their space.
The transformation has been well thought out and the feedback from families has been that they too, love it. Tanya also shared that the educators, when working with the children, engaged with the outdoor space with more purpose and responsibility.
Tanya and the educators at Muddy Puddles live and breathe their heart-centered and nature pedagogy, and there is a real sense that children are respected and thrive in the scenic environment. This is a unique and authentic education and care service which delivers an environment which fosters relationships, understanding, and support. The outdoor environment ignites wonder and imagination and creates challenges and fascination with the natural world.
Tanya and her team are proud of what they have achieved for children so far, and we look forward to seeing what happens next for Muddy Puddles Childcare & Early Learning.
Muddy Puddles has undertaken an array of training with Gowrie Training & Consultancy in the past 18 months. If you would like customised training for your service, contact us on 03 6230 6824 or firstname.lastname@example.org