Working together to roll out Bush Kinder program
If ensuring children have exposure to good old-fashioned childhood fun is the aim of bush kinder, then those at three Victorian Goodstart Early Learning centres are already way ahead of their peers.
Three Goodstart centres have collaborated to establish a bush kinder program, in an effort to share resources, information and connections and provide support.
And their endeavour was so successful, Goodstart Wangaratta, Moore St, Yarrawonga and Wangaratta Murdoch Road have been awarded a 2018 National Goodstart Goodie Award.
The Goodies recognise excellence in Goodstart centres and showcase the best practice and commitment to delivering high quality education. There were 19 national winners this year, and 700 nominations submitted.
Winning the team category, the three centres’ nomination for the awards outlined their journey as they planned and created their bush kinder program.
They set up a committee comprising the three centre directors and educators from each centre, sharing resources, information and connections.
In their nomination, the three centre directors, Wangaratta Moore St’s Tracey McAliece, Wangaratta Murdoch Road’s Janice Grady from and Yarrawonga’s Tara Middleton, said the objective for each of the centres was to establish a regular bush kinder that allowed children to explore and learn in the outdoor environment.
“This process has taken well over eight months with all three centres being actively involved, holding each other accountable, encouraging each other, setting tasks together and working as a team,” the centre directors said.
Setting up a closed Yammer group helped with communication on the project, and connections with other Goodstart and non-Goodstart centres who had bush kinder programs were made.
“After many months of research, planning, networking and collaboration, Yarrawonga had their first bush kinder on August 6 and live-streamed it on their Facebook page,” the directors said.
Goodstart Wangaratta began their bush kinder on September 7, while Wangaratta – Murdoch Road are still in the planning.
“The centres will continue to meet and discuss and share their learnings and insights from their individual bush kinder programs. And they will continue to connect with others to share what they have done, so that others can follow suit.”
Victoria/Tasmania state manager Paul Ryan said the project was a great example of creating stronger solutions together.
“The team amplified the impact of their work by sharing their resources, information and connections as well as troubleshooting together,” he said.
Research shows children playing outdoors are introduced to concepts such as problem-solving, language, science and caring for the environment. Encouraging children to collect objects such as rocks, feathers and sticks is a great way to learn about patterns, sorting and similarity.