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Bush Kinder

The bush kinder vision for the Maribyrnong community and beyond:

Nature is the leading pedagogy that brings our community together. We see its calming effects on children, particularly those with additional needs. Bush kinder supports children to be active and informed citizens through learning to care for the environment. They participate in activities such as Clean Up Australia Day and tree planting with the park ranger. These are our future environmental ambassadors. 

Our curriculum includes a bush kinder program on the banks of the Maribyrnong River. Taking place across different weather conditions, bush kinder promotes open-ended interactions, spontaneity, resilience, risk-taking and a sense of belonging to the wider community.

Why bush kinder? 

Most Australian children spend more time on screens than recommended (Australian Institute of Family Studies). Research by Curtin University shows that in just one generation, outdoor play has reduced from 73% to 13% (Growing up in Australia 2011). In 2017, we recognised the need in our community for creating closer connections with nature. In response, we were the first kindergarten in our region to incorporate bush kinder into our curriculum.  There have been many studies to support the benefits of exposure to Bush Kinder program including building a deeper understanding of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM). It can also assist in improved physical skills and health, social benefits and school readiness.

“Bush kinder has taught my son more than I could have imagined.  I initially thought he would just enjoy the great outdoors but it is so much more.  Unexpectedly by me, it has taught my boy to make the most of the situation by entertaining himself with whatever is available, 2 very important ingredients for a fulfilling life.  It is literally teaching him to dance in the rain.”

Kelly, mother of Jackson

Indigenous Australian culture:

The teachers use bush kinder to educate about the traditional owners of the land and the significance of the land in their culture. These conversations are continued at home kinder where educators incorporate Indigenous content and Indigenous ways of doing, such as yarning circles, into the curriculum. 

It fosters awareness and respect by recognising the significance of nature in Indigenous Australian culture. This is part of the kinder’s work as an early learning service to become unified with Australian First Nations communities through our curriculum, programs and our general ideology. We wish to engage families and local community more deeply with Indigenous culture in our activities and to create a culturally safe and welcoming environment.

Pipemakers Park Maribyrnong