Playing outside, breathing fresh air, running around, building forts and enjoying all sorts of weather is an essential part of childhood. Children should be able to stop and pay attention to what is happening around them, feel the wind on their skin, watch the clouds floating by and the play of light and shadows, experience the smells, sounds and colours of nature, watch the seasons change and listen to birdsong. At Hero, we make experiencing nature a priority.
Why is this so important? Increasingly, we expose ourselves and our children to all kinds of stimuli that leave us feeling restless and stressed. In today’s digital world, it is inevitable that our children will have to deal with this too. Hero aims to provide plenty of outdoor relaxation and exploration as an essential and healthy counterbalance. Many studies have shown that nature – a green environment – is ideally suited for this. It is no surprise, then, that babies also sleep so well in the fresh air; there are simply fewer (or different) stimuli in the great outdoors. When we introduce children to the joys of nature at an early age, they will continue to experience the benefits later in life. This is one of our goals at Hero Children’s Centres.
Besides making our outdoor areas greener, we also provide a variety of uneven surfaces such as grass, sand, wood chips and stepping stones to allow children to practice their balance. We add hills or other climbing opportunities and, most importantly, hiding places! Children need to be able to play independently and uninhibitedly; a willow hut or some simple bushes are the perfect place to let their imaginations run wild. We regularly provide additional natural materials for the outdoor area such as branches, pine cones and leaves to enhance the children’s sensory experience. We help the children plant fragrant herbs and flowers to stimulate their sense of smell as well.
Hero values discovery and adventure. For years, many day-care organisations – guided by legislation – avoided all risks. Many parents find it difficult to watch their child fall, yet we now understand the importance of – and see an increasing focus on – ‘risky’ play. Climbing, scrambling, building huts, working with tools and toasting a sandwich over the fire are all part of this. After all, risks are part of life. If you haven’t learned to deal with them, you can become extremely reckless or, on the contrary, very fearful of risks and trying anything new.
By guiding children in outdoor adventures from a very young age, we can properly assess what each individual child can handle. It is not a matter of simply allowing everything, but rather of properly supporting exciting and challenging activities. Instead of immediately shouting, “Stop!” we look at the possibilities and the benefits an activity provides for a child’s development.
Looking for expert, child-centred care for your baby or child?
Hero has around 85 day-care locations in Haarlem and Spaarndam, each with its own unique atmosphere, so there is always one nearby that will suit you. Take a look at our website for more information and to find a day-care centre near you. Still have a question? Feel free to contact the location of your choice.