It’s a cold wintry day at Preshil. The sun is peeking through the big rolling clouds in the sky and the dew has finally settled in the fernery that sits outside our Kindergarten. We put on our gumboots, hoodies and beanies and whoosh…out we run to the bush. Our own bush Kinder.
‘Time in the natural world builds confidence and supports discovery” (VEYLF, p21)
It’s one of the best kept secrets that we have our own bush kinder at Preshil. Tall gum trees to climb, mud patches to stomp in, stunning yellow blossom to admire, bird life that sings all day, and a mountain to run up and down. As part of a wider program which exceeds the national quality standard rating in the National Quality Framework Assessment, these are just some of the things that our youngest learners can enjoy each and every day.
Nature in play is not a new concept for early childhood programs. As many community kindergartens begin to incorporate visits to local parklands as part of their weekly program, we celebrate the fact that we have magnificent parkland right on our doorstep. This is what makes us so unique and we pride ourselves on the natural environment that is at the core of our philosophy.
Having a connection to the land and a connection to nature is such an important part of developing identity and wellbeing for children. The VEYLF uses gum leaves as a symbol of connection to wellbeing. Similarly, the use of the yam daisy, which was central to the diet of Aboriginal Victorians prior to colonisation, symbolises connection to identity. At Preshil we incorporate these outcomes through discovery and exploratory play, and provide strong links to the traditional Aboriginal land and water owners of the area.
In a world that is slowly becoming consumed with gadgets and screens, it is humbling to know that we can actually make a huge difference to the development of a child’s wellbeing and sense of self, just by providing valuable time outdoors with nature… time in the bush… time in our very own bush kinder.