Imagine a world where the lines were harsh and unyielding, the textures were consistent and variation is unheard of. Does it inspire you?
Now imagine a place where the carpet changes every day, the ceiling is a myriad of different colours, light, shadow and movement. The feelings and movement completely surround you, sometimes breezy, sometimes cold, others warm. Unexpected wonders fly by, sometimes full of colour and sometimes full of noise and movement.
If we really want children to thrive, we need to let their connection to nature nurture them.”
– Claire Warden, Nurture through Nature
Down at the preschool, Tuesdays and Thursdays are our ‘Bush Kindy’ days. The preschoolers start their day making their own wraps for a picnic lunch and proceed to get themselves ready for Bush Kindy. This program takes place at Centennial Park and where we spend an extended amount of time exploring, investigating and building our connection
to nature. We observe the children and their experiences, gaining insights into their interests and using our knowledge to plan our routes through the park, which constantly changes. There are many benefits to having a Bush Kindy program. Amongst them are:
1. Social wellbeing
During Bush Kindy, the children spend long periods of time engaging with one another, often lost in imaginative play. Trees are transformed into forests, rocks become castles; the language and interaction shared is rich as the children build relationships, negotiate and respect their roles in play, as well as share in meaningful conversation.
2. Emotional wellbeing
According to the Early Years Learning Framework, “a strong sense of wellbeing provides children with confidence and optimism which maximize their learning potential. It encourages the development of children’s innate exploratory drive, a sense of agency and a desire to interact with responsive others.” During Bush Kindy, we try to explore the vastness of the park. We aim to develop a trust in the children, which requires them to learn to follow instruction and
direction, develop a sense of awareness for themselves and others, understand boundaries and to be able to cope and persevere with challenges such as walking longer distances, dealing with not-so-desirable weather conditions or climbing rocks/trees. Through this, we are fostering independence and resilience, which builds their readiness to persist when faced with unfamiliar learning situations.
3. Physical wellbeing
Our aim for the year with Bush Kindy is to be able to explore the entire Centennial Park. We are constantly increasing our walking distances and changing our routes as well as expanding our boundaries. In doing this, we are giving the children the opportunities to explore various complex sensory-motor skills and movement patterns such as walking, running, climbing trees/rocks etc. Through this, they are also learning about ways to navigate their space with a heightened sense of spatial awareness and how to orient themselves within the environments safely and with increasing confidence.
4. Connecting to and learning through nature
Children have a natural affinity towards nature. Dirt, water, plants and small animals attract and hold children’s attention for hours, days, even a lifetime
(Moore & Wong, 1997)
There is so much wonder and joy that nature has to offer. It provides children a chance to simply ‘be’. Being in the moment, surrounded by the natural world, and giving them the time to seek and make meaning of the world around them. We believe that Bush Kindy offers them the opportunity to explore, investigate, problem-solve, theorise and share ideas as we learn ways to become socially responsible and show respect for the environment. Through Bush Kindy, we aim to develop their sense of curiosity and foster their sense of wonder or the ‘desire to know’ how or why things work and in doing so, building their confidence and involvement as lifelong learners.
Early Childhood Teacher