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Children in branches: Navigating the complexity of tree climbing in early childhood education

Sue Stover

This article draws on a small survey of Auckland-area early childhood services to explore “tree climbing as curriculum”. As well as considering how health and safety issues are understood and managed, it also considers the role/s of early childhood teachers during children’s tree climbing, alongside the relevance of folk wisdom about tree climbing offered by historic leaders of the early childhood sector. The capacity to offer very young children access to trees for climbing reflects a matrix of decisions—starting with access to a mature tree. However, centre philosophy plus teacher confidence are also key to children’s day-to-day experiences in trees. An ongoing challenge for centre management is the intentional care and management of playground trees.

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