Tag Archives: Australia

In praise of the emerging Aussie free range childhood movement

Kids at play traffic coneI have been mulling over the series of events that I took part in whilst over here in Australia. What strikes me is the level of commitment, energy, enthusiasm, activity and progress that I have seen on this trip (my sixth tour of the country over the same number of years). I have a strong sense of something in the air: an opportunity moment. So in no particular order, I want to pay tribute to the following people:

“Those rocks in that well are too dangerous.”

Here in Australia, I recently visited Bubup Nairm, City of Port Phillip’s newest family and children’s centre. Opened in April this year, it brings together a range of childcare, health and family support services in a state-of-the-art hub building with a $A 15m [£10 million, $US 14 million] price tag. It is an impressive place. But it has not had the easiest of starts. I was told that just a few weeks after it opened, a four-year-old child was hurt and ended up in hospital. She and another child had been handling some rocks in a stone well in the garden, and a rock slipped out of one child’s hands and fell on the other’s, breaking her finger.

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Do Aussies like children more than Brits do?

Hoodie in a frame

Photo by Feral78 from flickr

I am pleased to say that I will be returning to Australia this July and August for another series of talks and workshops, visiting Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. There is a full itinerary at the end of this post. My diary on this trip is very full, so I will have limited opportunities for additional visits and meetings. However, I will try to share some of my thoughts and experiences here, as on previous trips. One question has been on my mind for a while: are Aussies more well-disposed towards children as a group than we are in the UK? Does Australia as a nation care more about the freedoms it allows its children than we do here in the old country?

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“Sort it out for yourself” – sound advice, or too much to ask?

Bold Park studentsHow do schools and other settings help children to deal with arguments and disputes? And are some well-meaning approaches doing more harm than good?  A young Australian who I met on my recent visit there had some interesting answers to these questions.

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The low-cost, anytime bug hunt kit

specimen jar and magnifying glassWant to offer your kids – or the kids you work with – a simple, cheap way to get closer to nature? Just follow these three simple steps. 1: get yourself down to your nearest health clinic to buy/scrounge some specimen jars like the ones in this photo. 2: buy some magnifying glasses online (around 50p/a dollar each). 3: head for your nearest green space, and start hunting!

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Inspiration from Copenhagen

Tower in Valbyparken, CopenhagenHow does Denmark’s capital city meet its children’s need for outdoor play – and what can other nations learn from its approach? For a well-researched, gloriously detailed, beautifully presented answer, look no further than a new report from Australian architect Tanya Vincent.

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