Through their child and teacher initiated experiences, Kids World Gilston develop and encourage their nature play programme. They use their natural environment as the fourth teacher. The programme incorporates play based experiences with each individual (both children and educators) encouraged to explore the natural surroundings and direct energy into learning and expanding personal abilities. Kids World Gilston believe that unstructured play in the outdoors is fundamental for a child to have a full and healthy childhood. The benefits of nature play can be seen in social, emotional, and cognitive development. Nature play also helps children learn resilience and allows their own creativity to flow freely.
Address: 590 Worongary Road, Gilston, Gold Coast
Kids World Gilston is a long day care service based on the Gold Coast. We have 140 children aged between 6 weeks to 12 years, and draw lots of nature play inspiration from Mud World, the Things to do Lists, the Nature Play Passports, and Nature Play QLD forums.
Nature Play is a fundamental part of our daily routine and our teaching. “Nature Play Qld has become such a wonderful source of inspiration, becoming a Forest Learning centre and Bush Kindy was a very proud moment for the service” says Kyra (aka Nature Warrior). Over the 25 years that Kids World Gilston has been operating, the use of the natural environment has evolved to benefit the children, and in recent years the decision was made to expand on the use of our natural environment for greater learning opportunities.
Nature Warrior: Whilst I was an educator in a room I was always taking the children outdoors on adventures in rain or shine and watching their eyes light up with each new discovery and challenge. I utilise these opportunities of play to incorporate learning outcomes. Outside is where I feel at my best as a lead educator. I was fortunate enough that Robyn, the kindergarten teacher I was working with, recognised the benefit of this for the children. That’s when she sent me the link for the Nature Play Qld website and with that my passion was reinforced. Thanks to management, who have supported and encouraged me, 2018 began my new position as Nature Warrior, teaching in the great outdoors. Nature Play Qld has provided me with the inspiration and resources I need to successfully implement Nature Play on a larger scale across all ages. I am excited every day to see what nature and the children can teach me and how I can help them learn and grow.
Families And Children’s Responses: All of our educators have been met with a positive response from parents and care givers. Our families have told us how much they love that their ‘kids can just be kids’ that they can run, jump, climb trees and even play in the mud on a daily basis. We have involved our families by asking what their fondest memories were as a young child in nature and what experiences they would like their children to have. We structure planning around these ideas and the families are delighted when they can see their ideas implemented into their child’s nature play journey. Often we hear about how excited the children are when they get home to tell their families all about what they have learnt. More noticeably the children are so excited when they come through the front door to tell their educator that today they have their hats and walking shoes on. There has been a noticeable shift in children wanting to be in the garden, on a bushwalk and playing in our amazing yards. The children are engaged in a love of learning outdoors and enjoy sharing that with others.
The Benefits To Our Children:
We create our learning environment to be as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. With risk comes an organic way of learning limits and how to expand on those limits. Our aim is to allow the children the opportunity to test the limits of physical, intellectual and emotional development, develop a wide range of manipulative and motor skills, gain spatial awareness and
mastery over their bodies and develop muscle strength, endurance and skeletal strength. Risky play also helps children manage risk and understand how to keep themselves safe.
Self Directed Play
The educators can see that the children love to explore and play on their own terms. They occasionally look to an educator for reassurance or guidance; however the children are confident in directing their play and learning organically from their own underlying structures. The children benefit from not having someone “helicopter” over them. Often our children will invite educators to climb trees, eat mud pies and follow them on a bushwalk. The children are also seen encouraging and supporting each other in our adventures, building social and emotional strength and resilience.
Spending time playing in nature boosts the immune system by coming into contact with dirt which carries microbes and bacteria that are beneficial, especially to young children. The youngest of our children often visit our mud pits for a healthy dose of play and fun. Encouraging earthing by simply having skin in contact with the earth, absorbing its energy, helps to reduces stress, this can be seen when observing how happy and engaged our children are in their setting and with their peers. Exposure to sunshine boosts our vitamin (D) intake which helps to strengthen bones and assists the immune system.
Looking Forward: We will continue to promote Nature Play within our centre and to the wider community because we believe it is fundamental to a happy and healthy childhood. We will allow Nature Play to evolve
by listening to the voices of children, families, community and staff. We look forward to doing this in collaboration with Nature Play Qld.
Reflecting on our Nature Play adventures of 2018 I am delighted yet not at all surprised at the growth of the children, educators and service. Nature Play is embedded throughout our service and so it is a natural part of our daily lives.
Children in our service are showing greater social and emotional growth as a result of being active leaders in their own learning. We have removed some fence lines to open yards and encourage greater child-initiated socialising and play. With the addition of a new mud pit we always have space to get dirty and love the simple squishy pleasures in life.
The risk benefit statement we have in place is permitting our children to expand their motor skills, resilience and self-awareness. This self-awareness filters into scaffolded teaching used within our yards when children are encouraged to learn from and teach one another. I have seen apprehensive children grow into confident and capable explorers. While exploring though our yards the children can run, jump, rock scramble and even climb trees.
In partnership with our families we are building on their great culture of healthy living with the addition of our community gardens and our children are learning to cook using some of the ingredients we grow. We often see families visiting the gardens to collect produce in the afternoons. Our families are actively involved in the creation of our program and are keen to be involved and spend time learning with their children.
The children who attend our service are reaping the benefits of a life filled with open-ended play in the outdoors. They are learning about the traditional owners of this land and how to care for country. We are all so incredibly fortunate to have the amazing property to explore, run, play and learn.
I am looking forward to a wonderful 2019 spent in our unique environment.