The Garden Classroom
More and more research today suggests that outdoor learning can boost children’s welfare and performance at school. The Garden Classroom is helping to connect children in Islington with nature to inspire learning and creativity.
In a cabin on Newington Green amazing activities are being created. The Garden Classroom team plans everything from community festivals to school camping trips in Kent for families living in Islington. “We’ve been going for about eight years now. We only moved to Newington Green about three years ago and since then we’ve had a much stronger community presence,” says Amy Williamson, senior programme manager.
The Garden Classroom is a charity that provides outdoor experiences for children and families to encourage active lifestyles and promote self-discovery and respect for nature. The principles of LiNE (learning in natural environments) underpin its work with schools, and its outdoor activities for schools are cross-curricular including science, literacy, maths and just enjoying nature.
“Islington schools are really starting to get involved with learning outdoors,” says Amy. “We’ve got all these lovely parks and green spaces across the borough, so it’s actually pretty easy for children to discover nature on their doorstep.”
Hundreds of families did just this when they attended the charity’s successful Mildmay Festival of Nature in May. “We’d never organised any event on this scale,” Amy said. “The Big Lottery’s celebrate fund helped us provide all the activities for free. It was a really exciting nature party and everyone had a fantastic time.”
There was bug hunting, birdwatching and scavenger hunts, as well as music, maypole dancing, crafts and talks at Newington Green and five other Mildmay parks and gardens.
Coming up, its ‘Summer On The Green’ programme will be held on select dates in July and August, offering a range of free activities for children and families.
“We want people to see the park differently, so there will be family activities with a nature theme,” says Amy. “It is drop-in and a chance to explore the green and find out what lives here and grows here, looking at the different types of tree and plants.”
They also have volunteer work days for people living and working locally and are cultivating a growing space in a section of the park, so are looking for people to be involved in volunteering to work on the planting the area over the next two years.
“We want people to see TGC’s Newington Green garden as their space to enjoy,” says Amy.