Nature Sessions – Ōtautahi
about our nature sessions
Inspired by the Scandinavian Forest Kindergarten movement, bush kindy and bush school is a holistic approach to education believing children are capable and competent learners. Our outdoor, nature based sessions provide 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.
All our sessions run for 8 weeks of every term and are outdoors no matter what the weather. We run preschool sessions for 18month – 5/6 years old and we run primary aged sessions for 4/5 years – 12 year olds. A parent or carer attended the session with their child/ren.
WHY IS IT SO BENEFICIAL?
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 BUSH philosophy & VALUES
The philosophy behind our bush 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!
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 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.
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 relationships.
These relationships are with people, life and the world. Allowing time for relationships to build through warmth, love and kindness in our natural environment.
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.
HOW IT WORKS – THE DETAILS
Sessions run on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 8 weeks of the term.
IN SUMMER 9.30 – 12noon.
IN WINTER 9.45 am – 11.45am.
We start with a karakia, welcome / introductions and go over the days risk management and opportunities for play. Children then go off and choose what play that want to do. On some sessions there is opportunity for families to help out with maintenance/gardening on site if they choose to. 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 11.30 and then we have a quick check in with the tamariki to reflect on the days adventure and say farewell till next time.
18months – 6(ish) years
$56 per child over 18 months per term (adjusted over winter).
NB Younger siblings of paying child (under 18 months) come along and enjoy it for free.
Corner York Street and Hassals Lane, Opawa/St Martins.
WHAT TO BRING:
WINTER: Warm clothes, gumboots maybe required on the wetter days / dew days, spare clothes are a bonus, picnic blanket to sit in the sun, morning kai.
SUMMER: Hats, sunscreen, shoes or sandles, 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