Little Kiwis Bush School

Our Bush School waiting list is currently closed. We will reopen this in term 3.


Inspired by the Scandinavian Forest Kindergarten movement, and the more recent one day nature schools in Aotearoa, bush school is a holistic approach to childhood education believing children are capable and competent learners. Bush School provides real life experiences exploring and playing in nature where the child is at the centre of the environment. A place they build resilience, develop social skills, fine and gross motor skills and develop independence in a supportive environment.

Our Bush School is currently run alongside parents. This means that parents come with their child for the whole session.  THIS IS NOT A DROP OFF SESSION. Most whanau that are attend are homeschool families or families who are starting school later. We also have families who are taking their children out of school for a day a week to come and attend Bush School. We really appreciate how special this time is for families. It’s so nice to be present with your children and enjoy the magic of childhood in nature! 

One of the reasons that this is not a drop off session is because these sessions are not funded by the government so it is a user pays group. This means that if parents were to drop their children off then they would be payer a much higher price per session. While that suits some families, I want these sessions to be more affordable.


Research shows us there are many benefits to connecting our tamariki with nature.  It can support multiple developmental domains including intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual and physical.  It develops problem solving abilities, self belief, it enhances cognitive skills and improves academic performance.   It also increases physical activity, can improve nutrition, eyesight, social relations, self-discipline and reduce stress. Daily contact with nature can show many positive impacts.

Little kiwis philosophy & VALUES

The philosophy behind all our nature play sessions is around child led play in nature, with nature and through nature.  This means that children choose what they want to do and how they want to do it.  The main focus is about using the natural environment and exploring it at their own pace.  There are opportunities to explore, climb trees, forage (seasonal), get dirty, play on the forts and tree swings…and much more! We also provide outdoor play and loose parts opportunities that help enhance the space and provide some familiarity to children in a new space. 

Child led Free Play

We follow a child led free play philosophy which allows children to follow their play urges and explore when and how they want. Nature provides real life experiences where children can explore and play at their own pace in nature and where the child is at the centre of the experience.

We encourage children to take turns rather than share. A child can wait till another child has finished with something before they get a turn. If they want to negotiate their turn that is great. But ultimately a child should be able to choose when they are ready to move on not be told.

Risky Play

Risky play is an important part of a child’s development. At little kiwis Nature Play children are provided will opportunities to engage in risky play. It is wonderful to allow children to experiment with risky play in a supervised environment rather than later on in life where there might not be any guidance.

Risky play helps develop problem solving skills, risk management, self confidence and helps builds resilience. It is a wonderful skill that transfers to other areas of life.

If your child comes home with some cuts, bumps or bruises, please know they have had a wonderful day and that it is a normal part of nature play. In fact, we expect it! We call them learning injuries and there is a difference between learning injuries and life altering injuries.


We encourage children to do things for themselves. This can be frustrating for some children. The reason behind it is to help build resilience, problem solving and perseverance. If we help a child do something, then they become dependent on someone else to do that task. If they are given the opportunity to get frustrated, try and try again, problem solve; they may just figure it out all by themselves. They may not too. And that is ok. There is a saying ‘Every climb has it’s time, which need not be today.’ We support children in these feelings where needed.

Whakapapa (Relationships)

Relationships are so important and are the foundation to everything that we do. We feel that when relationships are strong children feel more secure in themselves and when exploring the environment. We put great value on going at the child’s pace as all children are unique and will build relationships at different paces. Social skills develop through realationships.

These relationships are with people, life and the world. Allowing time for relationships to build through warmth, love and kindness in our natural environment.

Manaatua (Well-Being)

We provide an environment that is peaceful, slow paced, calm and happy. Nature helps us to feel healthy, happy, purposeful and socially connected. With lives being so busy and over scheduled, being able to find time to support our Manaatua (well-being) is treasured.



5Sessions run on a Friday, 8 weeks of the term.

 FROM 10.30am – 1.30pm.

Our opening hui starts with a karakia, welcome / introductions and we go over the days risk management and opportunities for play. After the short hui, children then go off and choose what play that want to do.

On each session there is opportunity for tamariki and whanau to develop new skills. Your facilitator will share during the hui what other options are available. This could be whittling, hut building, gardening, nature crafts, fire and more. As always everything is optional.

We have a rolling kai and there is a nice place in the sun where parents often sit with their tamariki.  We are a community when it comes to looking after the children, we run with the ‘It takes a village’ ethos.  At the end of the sessions we start packing up around 1.10pm and then we have a quick check in with the tamariki to reflect on the days adventures and say farewell till next time.


5 – 12years old


$120 per child per term.

NB Younger siblings of paying child (2 – 4 years old) pay a small fee of $50 for the term. Under 2 years old are free. 


Corner York Street and Hassals Lane, Opawa/St Martins.



WINTER: Warm clothes (thermals or wool next to skin), jacket, hat, gloves, gumboots maybe required on the wetter days / dew days, over trousers are useful, spare clothes are a bonus, picnic blanket to sit in the sun, morning kai.

SUMMER: Hats, sunscreen, shoes or sandals, clothes that protect from the sun and layers if it’s a cool day, morning kai. Insect repellent can be helpful in summer.


Photos: Header by Stephanie Defregger, others by Celia Hogan

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