A newly-opened private nursery in Crockerton, near Warminster, has taken outdoor learning to another level by letting the children interact with animals.
The Learning Meadow for children aged two to five years old, is promoting a ‘learning by doing’ approach for them to build emotional, social and problem-solving skills.
The aim is for the children to spend 80% of their time outside, which moves them away from modern technology.
Owner and manager Dawn Pirie, who has a BA Honours degree in Early Years and Childhood Studies from University of Bath, said she believes “nurturing through nature” is the best way to develop children.
“We want you to be outside and learn just like we used to,” Dawn said.
“Being outside is the most natural place to be for children, nowadays they don’t spend enough time outdoors.”
“We use mainly open-ended resources so the children can create, explore and make what they want to make. They are using their imagination to create and form their own ideas.”
At the nursery, they all have breakfast together, and the children lay the table and help with the food to develop their social skills.
“We hope to have children coming out of here with excellent problem-solving skills and ready for all challenges in school.”
At The Learning Meadow, the animals play a major part in developing the children, and it is a home to goats, sheep, chickens, donkeys, dogs and cats.
Dawn said the animals have a soothing effect on the children and they help them when they are upset.
“We get the children to feed the chickens and goats, and other activities involve maths and literacy,” she said.
“There is something about animals and mindfulness, all the areas of development are used in interacting with them.”
Plans include a vegetable plot to let the children grow their own vegetables, pick them and prepare them and cook on the fire pit outside.
The nursery opened on January 7 and is still in its early stages but currently has 11 on the books out of 24 possible placings.
Opening times are 8am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays, with sessions within times from 8am to 1pm, 1pm to 5pm, or all day in a 38-week term setting.
Additionally, the nursery runs a holiday club, The Meadow Rangers, outside terms, with places available for unregistered children, depending on space.