What is Bush Kindy?
Bush Kindy is located in our natural environments within our College away from the education and care service and provides valuable opportunities for children to explore the natural environment and to extend the educational program.
Why implement Bush Kindy?
This approach comes out of significant international research, initially in European countries and now spreading throughout the world, highlighting the importance and value of nature play for children’s health, well-being and development (Faber-Taylor & Kuo, 2008; Lester & Maudsley, 2006; Munoz, 2009).
A key element of this initiative is that children engage in regular, extended periods of unstructured play in natural environments. The research has discovered that children experiencing weather fluctuations, creating their own play with the resources of the natural environment, building and practising self-management skills and just being immersed in nature are significant to this Kindergarten approach (Elliot & Chancellor, 2014).
Natural environments provide a rich setting for children’s play; however, Bush Kindy is more than just allowing children to play outside. Research and pedagogies are critical to the effectiveness of the program. For example, Danish Forest Preschools state the following 7 principles that are significant in underpinning their program:
- A holistic approach to children’s learning and development
- Each child is unique and competent
- Children are active and interactive learners
- Children need real-life, first hand experiences
- Children thrive in child centred environments
- Children need time to experiment and develop independent thinking
- Learning comes from social interactions.
(Williams-Siegfredsen, 2012, pp. 9–10)
These principles reflect the principles embedded in the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Framework, the curriculum that informs our program at Freshwater Christian Kindergarten, and the Early Years Learning Framework.
Benefits for students’ wellbeing and learning:
There are many benefits from implementing a Bush Kindy program including,
- Increased confidence, motivation and concentration
- Increased social, physical and language skills
- Deeper conceptual understandings
- Increased social responsibility and respect for the natural environment
- Improved physical skills
- Increased social and imaginative play and development of positive dispositions to learning (e.g. curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, persistence)
- Deeper relationships between educators and children
- Increased autonomy, resilience and agency
- Improved problem-solving, observation, inquiry, experimenting, investigating and hypothesising skills
- Children resource their own learning and play
- Increased controlled risk-taking
- Enhanced relationships, respect, and group dynamics
Managing risks appropriately is critical for the effectiveness of the Bush Kindy program. This involves an appropriate risk benefit assessment and management procedures by staff; but is also a valuable learning tool for children by involving them in on-going risk assessment and management discussions and procedures. Implementing and modelling clear boundaries and expectations also assist to maintain a safe environment. We will maintain a minimum adult/child ratio of 1:5. We can provide you with a copy of the Risk Benefit assessment on request.
- Elliott, S., Chancellor, B. (2014). From forest preschool to Bush Kinder: An inspirational approach to preschool provision in Australia. Early Childhood Australia. Retrieved on 25 January, 2017, from http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/our-publications/australasian-journal-early-childhood/index-abstracts/ajec-vol-39-no-4-december-2014/forest-preschool-bush-kinder-inspirational-approach-preschool-provision-australia-full-free-text-available/
- Faber-Taylor, A., & Kuo, F. E. (2008). Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in park. Journal of Attention Disorders Online First. Retrieved 27 November, 2008, from http://jad.sagepub.com.
- Williams-Siegfredsen, J. (2012). Understanding the Danish forest school approach. Oxon, UK: Routledge.