International early childhood experts to address GMIT virtual conference on outdoor play

GMIT Mayo and the Children and Young People’s Services Committee, Mayo, will host a two-day virtual conference on March 26 and 27 on the theme of outdoor play, titled “Leave No Stone Unskipped”, for educators, parents, students, researchers and policy makers.

The event aims to highlight the value of free, unstructured, play outdoors and will be addressed by leading international experts in early childhood education and care such as Angela Hanscom (USA ), author of Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children; Tim Gill (UK ), independent scholar, advocate, and consultant on childhood; Áine Bird (Ireland ), Burrenbeo Trust, Co Galway (since 2012 ); and Tristan Gooley (UK ), bestselling author and “natural navigator” who set up his natural navigation school in 2008.

A number of exciting virtual workshops will also take place, delivered by Margaret Flaherty, supervisor guide with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS ), overseeing visitor and education services at Wild Nephin Ballycroy and Connemara National Parks; Avril Grufferty, owner of Outdoor Explorers Preschool; and Martina Killian, final year student in outdoor education at GMIT Mayo and qualified florist who is a passionate small holding farmer growing vegetables and some of her own flower supply.

The conference will feature a poster presentation where early childhood education and care students will offer ideas to educators and parents in relation to transient art, loose part play, nature play, and place-based learning.

The event is jointly organised by Georgia MacMillan, graduate of GMIT Mayo and co-founder of Terra Firma, a social enterprise for outdoor learning, and Mary Skillington, assistant lecturer on the early childhood education and care programmes, GMIT Mayo Dept of Nursing, Health Sciences, and Social Care. Mary Skillington believes, “Children need freedom to follow their curiosity to explore and the space to develop motor skills and make judgment calls for themselves. Authentic play is a state of being which can be accessed by everyone and is as important as sleep. Free unstructured play outside in nature helps build happy, healthy, and resilient children.”

GMIT previously hosted an outdoor play conference in 2019 and a number of play days for families in the woodland trail at GMIT Mayo, in addition to a wide range of workshops related to the outdoors for students, parents, teachers and the wider community.

The GMIT Mayo and CYPSC Mayo event is funded by Healthy Ireland. The free conference starts on Friday March 26 at 7pm and runs all day Saturday, March 27. It is open to the public as well as educators, academics, researchers, and parents. Registration is via Eventbrite https://outdoorplaymayo2021.eventbrite.ie. For more information visit OutdoorPlayMayo.ie and FaceBook.com/outdoorplaymayo

For further information about the GMIT early childhood education and care programmes, visit www.gmit.ie/nursing-and-social-care/bachelor-arts-early-childhood-education-and-care and www.gmit.ie/mayo/mayo

 

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