Our ‘Bush Kinder’ program was developed after kinder staff attended a workshop on ‘Outdoor Spaces in the Early Childhood Setting’, and were inspired by the discussions on Bush Kinder in other services.
Looking around the Oak Park area for a nature reserve that we could visit, we realised that we had the perfect setting in our own backyard! The enclosed land beside and behind the kindergarten has the great mix of flat clear land, where we can kick the footy or soccer balls around, have picnics or just sit, and a cluster of trees where we can climb, explore, swing and ‘hide’. Depending on the children’s interest, we visit Bush Kinder at least fortnightly.
In 2014 Ian Hunter, an Aboriginal elder from the Wurundjeri tribe, joined us at Bush Kinder and shared his knowledge about the first inhabitants of this land, and what it looked like before houses and the kinder were built. It was well received by all and we hope to continue this incursion yearly.Bush Kinder provides opportunities to improve children’s physical, cognitive and social/emotional development through play. They enhance their motor skills through running, climbing, rolling, jumping, kicking, picking up small items, and playing in the dirt. We observe and discover changes in nature and we role-play and create adventures such as pirates seeking treasure, footy/soccer players on a field, and being bear-hunters.
Bush Kinder allows children to become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.
The children’s discussions and interactions with their friends and teachers on what they have discovered, assists language, vocabulary and listening skills. All of these areas allow the child to be an active participant in their education.
The most important part of Bush Kinder is we have lots of fun when we visit! Our experience has been that it becomes one of the favourite parts of the children’s kinder program.