When I was a teacher I used to love school trips, not because it meant a day out of school and was a day off. Believe me twenty five children with hands like octopuses and bouncing around like baby goats is not relaxing, even with enthusiastic parent helpers! I particularly enjoyed the trips where we would go walking or canoeing and then end the day in an adventure playground.
Spending time out of school with your class is somewhat liberating because you are still teaching them and making sure that they are safe but using play and can tell them about nature and things that just crop up without having to include it in your copious amounts of planning. Walking up a mountain really shows children’s stamina and true strength. On a trip to the Brecon Beacons with my class from Dagenham it was very interesting to see the loud cocky boys finding the height of the hills overwhelming and scary, holding on to me for dear life, while the quieter unassuming children moved along the fells like mountain goats. Without the restraints of the classroom walls were able to be ourselves and share this wonderful outdoor experience equally.
So far I have painted a Mary Poppins picture of school trips, when in fact these are only the edited highlights. Children are wonderful when they are occupied and busy and tend to not cause chaos when they are eating or sleeping. But when there is any room for manoeuvre your role goes from being one of pastoral carer and educator to referee and high court judge. The easiest way to overcome this is by letting the children loose in an adventure playground because adventure playground equipment is both exciting and safe. As soon as I see an adventure playground the child inside me leaps out and I am delighted to be able to ignore the age restriction and join the children in a liberating experience.
In every good adventure playground there is always a zip wire to go on and most of the children and teachers will spend most of their time queuing up to feel the wind blowing through the air and experience the nearest thing to flying they will have on the trip. The zip wires in adventure playgrounds tend to be very small and manual so that they can be used safely by children without the help of an adult. I hasten to add that I was not helping the children use the zip wire – I was just waiting for my turn and hopefully earning some popularity points along the way!
The equipment pictured in this article is available from www.playdale.co.uk where you will be able to find a huge range of adventure playground equipment to choose from.