Outdoor learning invites open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature.
A large part of our kinder program involves outdoor play, to experience nature and learn through hands on experience
Our aim is to support all our kindergarten programs to experience the outdoor environment for extended lengths of time, and encourage children to take the lead in playing, exploring and learning in a natural environment.
All Four-Year-Old groups have an integrated Bush & Beach Kinder program, facilitated off site at the Quarantine Station, Point Nepean National Park, Portsea. We meet at our home base - the shed next to the Quarantine Station carpark – and the location is an 8–10-minute drive from the preschool. Our home base provides both shelter and space, opportunity for the children to freely explore with clear sightlines for adults and natural boundaries. The park offers opportunity to expand into new spaces as the children’s familiarity and interest grows.
Point Nepean is a unique park that offers natural play spaces with proximity to facilities and shelter. The space offers easily identified natural boundaries and enables exploration of bush and beach environments with a variety of indigenous flora and fauna as well as exploration of both First Nations and early settlers’ history, and a working relationship with park rangers.
Why? There is increasing research worldwide into the benefits of natural outdoor play, which sees improved outcomes across physical, cognitive and social and emotional developmental domains.
These findings include children who regularly play in outdoor based, natural settings:
- Are sick less often, have improved immunity, eye health and Vitamin D levels.
- Have improved dexterity and physical strength. They have improved spatial awareness and risk negotiation ability.
- Their play is more diverse, imaginative and creative which in turn improves awareness, reasoning, observational, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Are more resilient, are more resistant to stress, mood is lifted, and anxiety is reduced, including increased abilities to self-regulate, resulting in a higher measure of self-worth
- Outdoor interactions encourage language and collaboration skills and more positive feelings about each other thus, negative peer interactions (bullying) are reduced.
Outdoor based play also directly links to key goals identified in the Early Year Learning Framework, as outlined below.
Children develop a sense of security with familiarity. Regular sessions learning outdoors helps children build and explore their identity.
Through firsthand experience children develop an awareness of their impact on the local environment and can get involved in caring for nature.
Regular contact with nature relieves children’s minds and ignites curiosity. Outdoor environments allow children to expand and refine their abilities, mentally and physically.
Ever changing outdoor environments invite hypothesising, imagination, interaction, problem solving and experimenting.
Children can share stories, use natural materials to create art and interact with each other and their surroundings to create drama and music.