Since March 2015 we've been venturing out into the bush with our tamariki, once a week. The weather doesn't ever hinder our spirit for fun, adventure, play and exploration. We're pretty proud of what we've achieved so far with our Bush Kindy and are so grateful of the trust our kindergarten whanau put in us to take their tamariki into the great outdoors.
Being a part of the Kids Greening Taupo programme has also strengthened our philosophy and given us great support. You'll find a great news item featuring Four Seasons Kindergarten and the other schools who are involved in the Kids Greening Taupo project below.
Fenella talked with Danny Watson on Newstalk ZB about Bush Kindy. It's a great listen. You'll find the segment here (the chat begins 1 min into the slot).
A great article written by Lucinda Murch (2015) from her Masters Thesis Finding the way through the trees: Shining light on young children's play dates with nature can be found here.
notes from a parents evening
by jo oats
“Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand” Chinese Proverb
You only have to look around our Kindergarten to notice the value that we put on exposure to nature. It permeates throughout both our inside and outside area and is an integral part of all that we are here. The Bush Kindergarten experience is involving our children in another aspect of being in nature.
I am going to talk about five aspects of our Bush Kindergarten experience.
Environmental Stewardship - For us one of the main reasons behind doing this is the cultivation of the future, a sense of environmental stewardship and caring for the environment. Our hope is that these children will continue to care and value nature throughout their lives. The research shows that the adults that have a strong connection to nature usually had experiences in nature as a child – often periods of self-directed play where they were able to spend long periods of time just ‘being’ in nature. These experiences had life-long impact in creating a connection, empathy and value of nature.
Well-Being and Trust – one aspect of the programme that we are particularly involved with in these early stages, is this idea of developing this understanding of what it involves to keep ourselves safe in this new environment. Particularly in these first few weeks we are focusing on creating an atmosphere of looking after and trusting. Trust of each other is a very important aspect of this experience. There is trust between children and adults, as well as adults and adults, both parents and teachers. Alongside this is the opportunity for children to develop their own knowledge about keeping themselves safe and also a sense of responsibility for their own well-being as well as the wellbeing of others. I think about our ‘rope boundary’ – all of us work together to remind each other of the area we stay inside to keep ourselves safe.
Confidence - Alongside this idea of Well-being is also the idea that comes through in much of the writings about Bush Kindergarten experiences – confidence. This opportunity encourages independence, creativity and self-directed play in an environment that enables some risk-taking and opportunities to develop perseverance. The physical play and discovery that occurs is so important for the young child. They develop confidence in this world and in their ability to find their way around it.
Wonder - it is very important that children have the time and space for the wonder of discovery. This sense of wonder offered by being in nature leads to our children wanting to investigate, learn and to explore – these are the skills of becoming lifelong learners. It is wonder that allows us to want to explore and discover more. Richard Louv (2005) suggests that early nature experiences are essential if we are to produce future thinkers and change agents.
Walking – I wanted to talk a little about the value of walking. When we went away on some Professional Development last year to hear Helle Heckman speak one of the aspects that struck a chord in us was her emphasis on the value of walking. She said the value of walking with your children cannot be underestimated. The movement of walking involves that cross-movement of the body. This movement builds ‘bridges’ in the brain which are built in the first five years. She says this is ‘walking as pilgrimage’ – walking at a slow pace – allowing the child to be. We wanted to incorporate some of this idea into our Bush Kindergarten activities.