The great outdoors beckon in Frankston
Twice every week, regardless of the weather, the children at Goodstart Frankston South - Stotts Lane head for the great outdoors.
They leave behind their blocks and paints, toys and games and instead climb trees, jump in puddles, explore their surroundings and invent games.
They are part of a Bush Kinder movement that is becoming more and more popular in Australian kindergartens.
Frankston South - Stotts Lane centre director Katherine Servetas said the centre had made a commitment to giving the children the opportunity to explore the bush behind their centre two mornings a week. And it’s been such a popular program that the team has introduced Beach Kinder two or three times a semester.
“Children are natural learners, and beach and bush kinder provide them with ample time for engagement and play in an unhurried way,” Ms Servetas said.
“One of the greatest guiding factors at our centre is our focus on the outdoor program and the numerous benefits it provides small children. We’re firm believers of taking off our shoes and really connecting with the earth for at least 20 minutes a day. Touching the earth, mud, sand or water with our feet is so very important,” she said.
About two years ago the team began investigating bush kinder and studying other bush kindergartens throughout the world. Just two weeks ago they started their beach kinder program and have plans to increase their trips to the seaside.
“Our bush kinder program has been so successful that expanding it to beach kinder was a foregone conclusion,” Ms Servetas said.
“We have seen a big improvement in the children's overall independence skills and resilience and this has then been replicated in the kindergarten classroom. It’s really helped them calm down and take in their surroundings and the world around them.”
Goodstart Early Learning research shows plenty of outdoor play can help children have better self-regulation, higher creativity and problem-solving skills.
The team hopes to gain access to a centre bus in coming months so they can expand the frequency of their beach kinder program, and offer the experience to younger children.
“We’re studying the rock pools, the shells, the seaweed and the sea creatures at the beach and comparing the surroundings to what we see in the bush. It’s a great experience for the children, and the educators, and we look forward to expanding it.”