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Kindergarten children head for the great outdoors

Goodstart centres

Every Monday morning, regardless of the weather, the children at Goodstart Early Learning Nambour City View Terrace head for the great outdoors.

They put aside the toys and climbing equipment, they leave behind the blocks and paints. Instead, they climb trees, jump in puddles, play in mud and invent games.

They are part of a Bush Kinder movement that is becoming more and more popular in Australian kindergartens.

Nambour early childhood teacher Laura Brazier said the centre had made a commitment to giving the children the opportunity to explore the bush for an uninterrupted period of time one morning a week.

 “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 in the bush,” Ms Brazier said.

“We really wanted to run a bush kinder program one morning a week because we believed that it would foster supervised risk taking behaviour, build independence, encourage children to explore and investigate nature and most importantly have fun.”

“Playing outdoors gives educators an opportunity to use nature to introduce children to concepts such as problem-solving, language, science and caring for the environment.”

About 12 months ago, the Nambour team began attending workshops and studying other bush kindergartens throughout the world.  With a space to take the children on site, they began communicating with families and started a trial on the first day of term two in 2016.

“It was a great success and the centre now runs it every Monday morning, regardless of the weather,” Ms Brazier said.

“We have seen a big improvement in the children's overall independence skills and this has then been replicated in the kindergarten classroom where children are encouraged to be independent and have a great sense of agency.

“We have also 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. The Nambour centre has also seen the success of the Bush Kinder program reflected in higher enrolments.

The team hopes to introduce some climbing logs, a yarning circle, and a swing made from natural resources in coming months. They also have plans to invite the local Aboriginal community into the Bush Kinder space to learn more about the Gubbi Gubbi history. 

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