After reading a journal article in early 2014 about centre’s in Australia running Bush Kindy programs, we discussed the possibility of running one at AHCC given that the bush is on our back doorstep and an important part of childhood is being outside in nature.
Educators at the centre, when reflecting on their own experiences as children and how their passion for the environment grew through their interaction with the bush, decided to implement a bush program here. Research has shown that many children, because of busy lifestyles, do not spend a great deal of time interacting with nature and Allambie Heights Children’s Centre (due to its wonderful location) had the perfect opportunity to offer a bush program to its preschool children.
We decided that the bush program would also compliment the sustainable practices already in place at the centre and would teach our children respect and responsibility for their local environment.
In the natural environment the children will be free to explore and play with virtually no boundaries, enabling our children to connect through play with the space and their land in a way that cannot be done under a roof or within walls. Nature is the ultimate open-ended resource.
What happened next
Most of 2014 was spent developing policies, procedures and risk assessments. A visit was made to another centre by one of our educators to participate in their program, this was great in developing ideas and seeing the benefits. We spent time talking to the children about what they may see out there and how to stay safe. Towards the end of 2014 we started running the program, taking the Thursday class of Kookaburras out for an hour during the morning session.
Where to now
The Bush Kindy was further developed in 2015 with both the Tuesday and Friday Kookaburra classes spending their morning session participating in the program.
By 2016 we were running it three days a week for an hour and a half each morning ensuring that all the children in the class had the opportunity to participate. We look forward to seeing where it leads in the future.
All of AHCC’s policies are adhered to while the Bush Kindy program is being run, as well as policies specific to the program itself.
Read here what the Manly Daily had to say about AHCC Bush Kindy and the importance of encouraging children to spend time outdoors, while learning about nature.
AHCC’s Bush Kindy vision
Australian and International research shows that children today are spending much more time in doors, in front of screens and participating in structured activities. These activities restrict children from participating regularly in outdoor unstructured activities and exploring natural environments. It has been documented that this shift is contributing to health problems, while children are also suffering from a lack of connection with nature and the outside world. We want to help turn this trend around and give the children (at AHCC) a chance to spend quality time in nature, with passionate educators, to encourage them to explore and learn. Through the bush program we want to develop children who have increased self-motivation, concentration, confidence and self-esteem – children who are creative, independent and resilient. These are the most important indicators for school readiness. We would also like to see our children be able to work individually or in groups to problem solve, be creative and occupy their time independent of man-made equipment. Having the ability to use their own resourcefulness to interact with nature’s open ended resources and to achieve great things!
Children are natural learners. Bush Kindy will provide your child with the time and an ideal environment for them to learn in – over an hour of uninterrupted play in the bush, using what nature has provided as learning materials.
Bush Kindy will be a special part of your child’s total experience at AHCC. Each child’s developmental progression and particular interests will be noted by the educators. The educators will use this knowledge to support the children’s learning just as they do at Kindy.
Through play your children will connect with and respect our bush environment.
“Outdoor spaces with plants, trees, rocks, mud and
water invite open ended interactions, spontaneity,
risk taking and a connection with nature”
What might happen during a session
We may explore bush tracks, look at inhabitants of puddles with magnifying glasses, identify birds with binoculars, watch changes to the bush/wildlife in the area eg: nests being built, making mud pies, creating art in sand or with sticks and stones, we may spend time in physical activity digging, constructing or negotiating uneven ground.
Topics of discussion for a session might include
Rubbish/pollutants we may see and how it affects the bush, how the bush changes over different seasons, identifying flora and fauna.
Policies relating to Bush Kindy
- Bush Kindy Policy
- Snake, Spider and Insect Policy
- Risk Assessment On Bush Kindy Site
For our Bush Kindy program policies/risk assessments, plus latest news and photos click here.