Nature Kindergarten

To the best of our knowledge, in 2017 Little Learners EDEC launched the first full-time, onsite ‘Nature Kindergarten’ in Australia.

Our pioneering Nature Kindergarten was part of a massive redevelopment project that saw the conversion of an existing underutilised playground into an exciting, engaging, and inspiring natural area.

Nature Kindergartens are known globally by many different names such as Forest Schools, Bush Kindergartens, Outdoor Schools, Wald kindergarten, Rain or Shine Schools but the philosophy remains the same.

The outdoor preschool approach was originally established over 50 years ago in Scandinavia and is known by many different names. Outdoor education has become an international movement with preschools emerging in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand over the last decade.

Australia is a nation defined by its outdoor environments … however, research reveals that one in ten Australian children play outside once a week or less. The landscape of childhood has changed. In a single generation, we have seen a profound shift from outdoor play to indoor play. (Climbing Trees: Getting Aussie Kids Back Outside – Planet Ark)

Many older adults in Australia have memories of being free to roam, to explore the creeks, the beach and the bush. Such memories, together with the well-researched negative consequences to children of not having contact with nature, have led to a growing movement among concerned educators, academics and
parents to address this imbalance that prevents children from having the privilege of experiencing so much of what Australia truly has to offer.

Numerous ongoing researchers from a wide variety of independent organisations have demonstrated the significant benefits of children spending long extended periods of time outdoors in nature. For example, children have better brain development, better bone and muscular development, better social and
cognitive development, better emotional wellbeing and less illness.

Promoting children’s wellbeing, confidence and resilience should be the cornerstone of every educational policy, if we are to empower our children to achieve the best developmental outcomes. Nature Kindergartens are child centered and are deliberately designed to promote the holistic development of the child.

Numerous long-term Forest Schools programmes have demonstrated the positive impacts on children’s resilience, confidence and wellbeing.

“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.” — Richard Louv

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