FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW ARE YOU HANDLING THE THREAT OF COVID-19 IN YOUR CLASSES?
Though medical and government guidelines continue to change, classes like ours are currently allowed to re-open during NYC's Phase 4, scheduled for late July 2020. Based on the latest research, all-outdoor classes are the safest way for children to be with others for play or learning. Please see our full pandemic health and safety policy here.
WHY ARE CLASSES ALWAYS OUTDOORS?
Hundreds of studies have proven the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outdoors. From lower levels of anxiety to increased focus. This is true even for urban areas--even a few more trees on the block has a positive health impact. Playing outside with a full range of movement improves balance, sensory awareness and motor control--skills that lay the foundation for sitting still in class! And these positive effects happen even when the weather is not traditionally beautiful. When the usual school day includes less than a half hour of recess (and even that is not always outside) spending time outdoors after school is essential. We are outside rain, shine, snow or mud as long as it's not too cold or windy. We use our weather guide to decide when to stay outside and when to take the play indoors.
WHY INSIST ON CHILD-LED PLAY?
The American Academy of Pediatrics' August 2018 report "The Power of Play" prescribed two hours of play everyday. But not just any kind of play--outdoor, active, child-led free play with peers. This kind of play is "fundamentally important for learning 21st century skills, such as problem solving, collaboration and creativity." Child-led play means play not led by (or interrupted by) adults. This is so hard to provide as a parent! Think of how often you say no to the mess, or because of unfounded worry, or due to tight schedules and other obligations. At Brooklyn Wild, play comes first. Children have nearly two hours to play in their own way, at their own pace, monitored by playworkers who are trained to maintain safety without interfering. When children lead their own play, that's when they can truly exercise their creativity, learning to see new possibilities everywhere.
WHY DO YOU GIVE THE CHILDREN BOXES AND THINGS?
Playing with loose parts--materials that have uses only limited by the imagination--are a core piece of our curriculum. Open-ended materials like boxes can be combined in hundreds of ways. When the play environment is rich in flexibility (rather than fixed, like a traditional playground), children become more flexible and creative as well.
BUT IS IT RISKY?
Risky play does not mean dangerous play. (In fact, play in more adventurous settings is four times safer than play on traditional fixed playgrounds.) Reasonable risk in play is defined as play that is just challenging enough to keep a child engaged, thinking and building their play skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics says “taking risks, experimenting and testing boundaries” in play is essential to a child’s well-being and long-term success.
SO HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM GOING TO THE PLAYGROUND AFTER SCHOOL?
Parents can absolutely aim to use the principles of playwork and child-led play with their children! (Playfulness can create strong, positive bonds that make family life much smoother.) But because a parent's main role is to protect and guide, we too often get in the way of child-led play. Suggestions, instructions and interruptions--adults find it hard not to help! Brooklyn Wild offers children a short window of time, outside of everyday obligations, where they are the decision-makers. Here, they can feel like anything is possible.
AND WHAT IS A PLAYWORKER EXACTLY?
Morgan Leichter-Saxby says that a playworker has a very special role. They are not a teacher, not a parent. For a few short hours, a playworker assures every child that they and their play--the ideas that might seem impossible in other settings--are marvelous. Brooklyn Wild's playworkers are trained to model play, especially for children who may be unfamiliar with loose parts, and seed possibilities without interruption or judgment. They also watch for hazards, make sure children are warm and safe, and use Positive Discipline methods for conflict resolution.
WHY ARE THESE CLASSES IN SUNSET PARK?
Because the founder of Brooklyn Wild lives in Sunset Park, and her youngest son will be starting pre-K here next year. She wants him to have outside time and free play every day, even during the school year and while she's at work.
WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN IT GETS DARK OR COLD?
When the sun goes down early, a different kind of magic begins! We'll provide lanterns, flashlights, glow sticks and head lamps for early evening exploring. When it gets cold, we'll have warm water for hand washing, hand and foot warmers, yummy hot drinks and a tent to keep us toasty (in addition to layers and snow suits)! Every season has it's pleasures.
BUT WHAT IF THERE'S THUNDER/INTENSE COLD/HURRICANES/BLIZZARDS?
When city schools close for inclement weather, Brooklyn Wild closes as well. But when weather brings lightning, high winds or intense cold, we move class indoors for Library Time or a Brooklyn Wild Playdate. At the library, we have free and group reading and may attend the library events that day. At the Playdate, we have small items for free play, like Lego, toys, art supplies and books. If inclement weather moves us indoors, we alert parents of the changed pick-up location. You can read all the details about when we are outside and when we are indoors on our Weather Guide.
DO YOU OFFER SCHOLARSHIPS?
Yes! We currently have a limited number of sliding scale spots available. Please email email@example.com to find out more. As we grow, we intend to offer a wider variety of new play opportunities.
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