A CEREDIGION playgroup has been taking part in a special educational initiative.

Aberporth Bilingual Playgroup is the only early years setting in the county to take part in the Creative Learning Wales programme – and one of 15 early years settings across Wales to be involved - which was originally designed for schools, but the Welsh Government announced that it could be extended to early years non-maintained settings for children aged between three and five.

Tivyside Advertiser: Aberporth Bilingual Playgroup is part of Creative Learning Wales.Aberporth Bilingual Playgroup is part of Creative Learning Wales. (Image: Aberporth Bilingual Playgroup)

The playgroup doesn’t have an outside area, so has been able to use the project to plan activities based in the local woods which encourage children to explore, experiment and solve problems. It also teaches them skills and knowledge through practical experiences including making dens out of cardboard boxes and willow, water play and mark making, hanging hammocks and straps for slackwires, storytelling and puppetry, as well as using found objects for play and exploration.

The playgroup’s management committee said in a statement: “The children have become curious and inquisitive about their surroundings, allowing the children to judge and predict risk has become an important part of playgroup life.

Tivyside Advertiser: The children are encouraged to explore.The children are encouraged to explore. (Image: Aberporth Bilingual Playgroup)

“The staff encourage the children to use their whole bodies when traversing challenging terrain, using stepping stones to cross the stream, slippery mud banks or mossy logs, this helps staff to see how it supports the children’s confidence and resilience.”

The parents have also been supportive of the scheme. One of the parents said: “The main reason we chose this playgroup for our child was because a lot of the play sessions were based outdoors. I love that the children go out no matter the weather and learn to appreciate and enjoy what is around them, not to mention the benefits of exercise and fresh air.

“Our child has grown in confidence since starting, we have noticed that he is much more curious and willing to explore (and get muddy!) and I think that is down to the forest/beach sessions. We explore a lot as a family so feel this has benefitted all of us. Thank you!”

Vanessa Bowen, a foundation phase senior advisory teacher, said: “The setting now provides one of the best learning experiences in the outdoors, even though they haven’t got an outdoor area. They are more in tune with their environment and community than was thought possible.

“As they share the children’s learning and experiences in the outdoors with parents, it teaches the whole community about enabling and learning environment and how important it is to develop ambitious and capable learners for the future.”