Child’s play at Haverhill centre in nature itself

Fraser, two, and Savanna  Farrant, seven,  from Haverhill make play with cardboard boxes at the Autumn Adventures Day at On Track
Fraser, two, and Savanna Farrant, seven, from Haverhill make play with cardboard boxes at the Autumn Adventures Day at On Track

Youngsters at a Haverhill children’s centre went back to nature last week as they got a taste of a pioneering new approach to childcare, play and education.

Called an Autumn Adventures Day, the event on Thursday (November 1) was open to children under eight and their families and was held by On Track at Chalkstone Community Centre.

Children were offered traditional play with natural resources, such as mud, leaves, bark, pine cones and water to give them the opportunity to play in a less technology-led way, as their parents or grandparents would have done in days gone by.

The approach to play also gave families low cost ideas that they can replicate at home and showed that enjoying time with your child does not have to be expensive.

The day was organised in the wake of staff at On Track and Cartwheels children’s centres in Haverhill becoming the first in the UK to receive six months of training for the Early Adopter project, which deals with social pedagogy.

Training began at the end of March after On Track received a ‘Good’ rating from Ofsted.

Charlotte Tillbrook, children’s centre co-ordinator for On Track and Cartwheels, said: “I am really proud of what the staff have achieved in the last six months.

“The success of our Ofsted at On Track was the beginning of what has been a transformation.

“The team are very passionate about what they do and believe in the families we work with.

“The timetable of services complements all that we have learnt and will continue to develop and grow over time.

“I hope that families will continue to enjoy their time at the Children’s Centres.”

Social pedagogy, she explained, is often described as ‘education in its broadest sense’, or ‘where care and education meet.’

Charlotte added: “It is where every interaction is an opportunity for learning about the self or others.

“Social pedagogic practice is concerned with human beings’ learning, well-being and inclusion in society.

“It emphasises building self resilience through practitioner-client relationships.

“Some of these have been a more person centred practice, valuing the child as an individual and giving them good childhood memories.

“There has been a real emphasis on team work and valuing the contributions of others. “Staff have enjoyed bringing out their creative sides and hope that families will value what they offer in the groups at the children’s centre.”