The world of Bush Kindy

Two mornings a week Freshwater Christian Kindergarten run an outdoors program called ‘Bush Kindy’. Held at a variety of bushland sites on the College property the sessions run for approximately 2 hours (includes Morning tea). Although the program is planned the sessions are designed to be flexible. Clear expectations and boundaries are put in place to facilitate children allowing them to take controlled risks and engage with the environment in a supervised manner. The main benefit for children playing in the bush is that natural environment allows them to be creative and imaginative thinkers. These skills are very crucial for developing 21st Century skills such as; critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity and social skills.

In our classroom children constantly play with toys. This is great, however, when children are at bush kindy without toys it gives the children further opportunities to play with each other. This involves the children frequently relying on communication, which develops as they use and hear it.

 

Why Bush Kindy?

This Bush Kindergarten approach comes out of significant international research, initially in European countries and now spreading throughout the world, about the importance and value of nature play for children’s health, wellbeing 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 nature 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.

Seven Principles that are significant to Bush Kindy

  • 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 and the Early Years Learning Framework, the curriculum that informs our program at Freshwater Christian Kindergarten. 

Children taking control of their learning journey

During the Bush Kindy program, educators take on a facilitator role in children’s play and learning. Children are encouraged to make their own play, using their imaginations, prior experiences and the resources available within the environment. While educators may prompt, question and encourage children, they maintain a delicate balance of appropriate scaffolding and safety, while also allowing children the freedom to experiment, solve problems, invent, negotiate and take risks within the boundaries. 

Minimal resources are taken down to the Bush Kindy area, encouraging children to make use of what they can find and create their own games. Some equipment will be taken to the site, such as safety equipment, mats, water and a portable toilet facility etc. 

Interested in enrolling your child in our Kindergarten

For further information on our Kindergarten Program please visit our Kindergarten page

Bush Kindy Links to the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines (and the Early Learning Years Framework)

          Identity 1:

1.1 building a sense of security and trust

1.2 increasing independence and perseverance

1.3 building confident self-identity

         Connectedness 2:

2.1 building positive relationships with others

2.2 shows increasing respect for diversity

2.3 shows increasing respect for environments

         Wellbeing 3:

3.1 building a sense of autonomy and wellbeing

3.2 explores ways to show care and interact positively with others

3.3 exploring ways to promote own and others’ health and safety

3.4 exploring ways to promote physical wellbeing

         Active learning 4:

4.1 building positive dispositions and approaches toward learning

4.2 increasing confidence and involvement in learning

4.3 engaging in ways to be imaginative and creative

         Communicating 5 :

5.1 explores and expands ways to use language

References: 

  • 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. 
  • For further information about the benefits and considerations of Bush Kindy in an Australian context, please see the article From forest preschool to Bush Kinder: An inspirational approach to preschool provision in Australia by Elliot & Chancellor. 
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: http://www.unicef.org.au/Upload/UNICEF/Media/Our%20work/childfriendlycrc.pdf 
  • National Quality Standards: http://files.acecqa.gov.au/files/National-Quality-Framework-Resources-Kit/NQF03-Guide-to-NQS-130902.pdf 
  • Early Years Learning Framework: https://www.coag.gov.au/sites/default/files/early_years_learning_framework.pdf
  • Genney Frazer’s advice and Cairns Family Daycare information.
  • Framework for School-Age Children: http://files.acecqa.gov.au/files/National-Quality-Framework-Resources-Kit/my_time_our_place_framework_for_school_age_care_in_australia.pdf

Thornbury Kindergarten “bush kinder” Program Handbook, 2015, sourced April 2019.