The Woods Early Education Center caters for children from six weeks to five years of age, offering five age-appropriate rooms. The center offers an off-site Bush Kindy program for all ages. At The Woods Early Education Center, we are inspired and informed by pedagogical philosophy that continues to evolve in Reggio Emilia, and advocates for the importance of the environment as the third teacher.
The commitment to providing children with natural spaces to live and learn in is reflected in our outdoor learning environment and programs. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to offer children an outdoor learning space that incorporates many natural elements that were purposely designed and built for our service. In 2018, our playgrounds were overhauled by the team at Wearthy, to incorporate sandstone boulders, bush gardens, ample garden beds and lots of natural, earthy tones, offering our children ample opportunity to engage in risky play. We are also fortunate to be bordered by a lush natural creek and the opportunity to share our environment with all the local native animals.
Our outdoor learning environments are spaces that allow inspiration and creativity, curiosity and spontaneity, and importantly, for risk and failures to be viewed as positive learning experiences. Our outdoor learning environments help our children to develop life skills and the awareness they need to be confident and resilient. Children are natural learners and by providing them with opportunities to engage in risky play, we have seen significant changes in the patterns in which our children engage in play and learning. Our outdoor environments are an infinite source of provocation that we have seen endlessly fulfil children’s innate desire for knowledge, movement, inquiry and social opportunities.
To accompany our beautifully designed on-site outdoor environments, we offer a Bush Kindy program which has been carefully planned and implemented for further outdoor learning & development opportunities for our children. Our team of educators, together with our families and the local community, take groups of children to an off-site location at least once a week, where our children build upon their own learning through using the natural resources our off-site locations offer. From climbing trees to constructing tree swings or tee-pee cubby houses, our children continually engage in play in a way that promotes learning for life long skills.
Evolution & Implementation of the Bush Kindy Program at The Woods
The commitment to providing children with natural spaces to live and learn is reflected in our outdoor learning environment. We are incredibly fortunate to offer children an outdoor learning space that incorporates many natural elements that were purposely designed and built for our service. In 2018, our playgrounds were overhauled to incorporate sandstone boulders, bush gardens, ample garden beds and lots of natural, earthy tones. We are also fortunate to be bordered by a lush natural creek and the opportunity to share our environment with all of the native animals.
During the course of having our playgrounds renovated in an attempt to allow children to partake in risky, outdoor nature play, we began reflecting as a team our service location within our community and the potential for regular outings into the beautiful natural spaces that boarder our centre. We started our journey through research articles to establish the benefits for learning & development for children. Through our research we came across a number of inspirational services that have embedded bush kindy programs into their services.
Our team of dedicated and enthusiastic educators met frequently as new research, inspiration and ideas were found. They were shared and reflected upon with a vision becoming clearer and clearer for the program we were working towards embedding.
Whilst we continued to research and plan our off-site Bush Kindy program, our team of passionate educators embedded nature play within our gates. The use of upcycled and loose parts quickly became a big part of our outdoor & indoor environments, using them in provocations to encourage children to express wonder, curiosity and think outside the norm to further expand upon their learning.
After months of research and planning, in March 2019 we finally reached our first Bush Kindy excursion day. Starting off small, we took a group of eight children out to our Bush Kindy location and each fortnight we took groups of eight out to our Bush Kindy location. Each group we took, we promoted agency, independence and leadership within the children by taking one or two children from the group previous as a way of teaching their peers the rules & safety tips. We slowly built upon the group sizes and by July 2019, we finally took our entire School Readiness class and a number of Kindy children.
Our Bush Kindy visits continue to grow and evolve with multiple locations being marked and used for our Bush Kindy program. Our children, families and educators look forward to Bush Kindy days each week.
As of October 2019, our Senior Toddler group have started heading out to our bush kindy location and the local parks as part of our Bush Kindy Program and Nature Play philosophy. We are using this as a way of filtering the programs through our younger age groups. Our Nursery children participate in mud month as well as enjoying our big side bush garden on-site on a regular basis. Moving into 2020, our intentions and plans are to continue to filter our off-site Bush Kindy days through our younger age groups as well as our Kindergarten children continuing with what they already participate in.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Land on which The Woods Early Education Centre now stands and pay respects to Elders, past, present, and emerging. We respectfully acknowledge that these Lands have always been places of learning and teaching.