Early Years Job-Alike by Deb Wilenski & Laura Magnavacchi

We don’t need to get lost’: adventure, daring and curiosity in early childhood education

Three four-year-old girls are exploring the forest. They are running in wide looping paths, travelling quickly and fighting their way through thick, spiky undergrowth. I ask if they know the way back, beginning to feel a little disorientated myself. Their answer comes with barely a pause:

Clemence: We won’t get lost if it’s not dark.

Milla: We don’t need to get lost. We are brave and strong and we know everything!

This is a whole day workshop focussing on how we can work with adventure, daring and exploration with children aged 1-7 years. Drawing on the practice and pedagogy of Reflections Nursery, Small School and Forest School (UK) we will address some provocative questions: What does adventurous early childhood education look like? Where can we go physically and conceptually in our explorations? How do we build a balanced curriculum from children’s interests? How do we assess daring and curious children?

We will spend time inside and outdoors, in the school and a nearby forest and will explore our key questions through project documentation, discussion, first-hand adventures and creative experiments. There will be plenty of time for hearing about each other’s plans and next moves and a satisfying balance between hard thinking and playful enjoyment.

Early Years Job-Alike coordinators - Nikki Hume and Duane Smith established Early Years GOOGLE COMMUNITY.

Please register to join the EY Google community, whether you are attending the Conference or not, to begin dialogue about ongoing pedagogy in your Early Years programs and to continue possible collaboration opportunities within and between your schools!

Deb Wilenski

Deb Wilenski is a pedagogical consultant, educator, writer, and graphic designer working with Reflections Nursery and Forest School (West Sussex, UK) and Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (Cambridge, UK).

With a background in Biological Anthropology and the Arts, she is inspired by the preschools and infant-toddler centres of Reggio Emilia, the woodland nurseries of Scandinavia, and by projects which value children as radical makers of culture and meaning.

Deb works with educators and children through creative projects, pedagogical discussion, direct observation and documentation. She believes strong, creative, purposeful children need strong, creative, purposeful educators, and much of her work focusses on developing these qualities. She presents regularly at conferences and professional days in the UK and abroad.

Deb is the author of The Revolutionary Baby (with Laura Magnavacchi), The Fire Monster (with Laura Magnavacchi and Mandy Jenkins), 37 Shadows – Listening to children’s stories from the woods, and A Fantastical Guide to Hinchingbrooke Country Park (with Caroline Wendling). She is currently working on The Dark and Luminous Forest – Children’s explorations of light, sound and vision in the wild outdoors.

Laura Magnavacchi

Laura Magnavacchi is an Artist, Atelierista, Early Childhood Educator and Pedagogical Consultant from Italy.

She worked 3 years in Italy where she experienced Reggio Children pre-schools developing an interest in the Atelier (art studio) and the role of Atelierista (artist who works alongside children).

She then worked 4 years as Atelierista and Forest School Leader at Reflections Nursery in the UK where her passion lay in outdoor learning and the relationship between art, nature and education.

She is currently working in New Zealand as Atelierista and Pedagogical Consultant.

Laura has a degree in Education, a degree in Fine Art and qualifications as Forest School Leader and Designer. Her current research interest is in how early education is developing, especially through creative languages, in different contexts around the world.

Laura is co-author/graphic designer of books for children and educators such as Storying, The Fire Monster, The Revolutionary Baby, From Bacteria to Galaxies and Homely. Her art practice includes painting with mixed media, etching and photography. She is interested in the relationship between opposite but connected concepts that can live together through art, especially the dialogue between light and dark and different material.

Her own art work has been selected for exhibitions in Italy.