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Discovering the benefits of bush kinder

Goodstart centres

When educators Jacky McDonald and Laura Knock started their bush kindergarten program at Goodstart Early Learning Nambour City View Terrace, they knew they were on to a good thing.

“We really wanted to build a sense of “un-bubble wrapping” and give our children exposure to old-fashioned childhood fun such as tree climbing, getting muddy and simply playing the bush,” Ms Knock said.

“We believed a bush kinder program would foster supervised risk taking behaviour, build independence, encourage children to explore and investigate nature and most importantly, have fun.”

Spreading the word about bush kinder

One year later, bush kinder has become a huge success, and both Ms McDonald and Ms Knock have been invited to talk about the program at Sunshine Coast TAFE.

“When we started bush kinder, it started a lot of interest in this area, and many other centres have started running the programs,” Ms Knock said. “We find that really exciting and feel like we’re changing practice in the industry.”

 “The TAFE wanted us to talk to early childhood diploma students about what nature play is, and why it’s so important.

“A lot of centres and kindergartens around here don’t use nature play to their full potential but many are taking it up. We have started a movement in Nambour. “

The pair spoke on March 13 and 15 and are now hoping to extend their knowledge-sharing to the Sunshine Coast University Bachelor of Education students.

“We’ve also extended our program and we now take the kindergarten children to the park next to our centre,” Ms Knock said. “This means the younger children now get to visit the bush kinder space on the centre grounds.

The future looks bright at bush kinder

The team at Nambour began their bush kinder journey well over a year ago, attending workshops and studying other bush kindergartens throughout the world. They began communicating with families and started a trail on the first day of term two in 2016.

They saw the benefits immediately.

“We have seen the children grow a lovely sense of calm in their everyday play – both in bush kinder and in the classroom. This is a fantastic result as we have been working with many of our children and families to support their behaviour choices.”

Goodstart Early Learning research shows plenty of outdoor play can help children have better self-regulation, higher creativity and problem-solving skills.

Nature Play Week is on from April 12-23. 

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