How outdoor play-based learning grows children’s skills and resilience
Over the past decade, there has been a growing international interest in nature play. Unstructured outdoor play is one of the best ways to develop children’s skills and increase their motivation for learning whilst fostering a love of the earth.
Here in Queensland, nature can be part of our everyday life thanks to our temperate climate and easy access to backyards, parks, reserves and native forests. Bush Knowing Forest School is proud to be an official Nature Play QLD activity provider; giving Brisbane families an opportunity to engage with and learn from nature throughout the year.
Learning in and from nature since 2018
Why play in nature with Bush Knowing?
Bush Knowing Forest School is the creation of Joanne Sørensen – an experienced, and qualified Forest School Leader and Early Childhood Teacher. Jo has been teaching for over thirty years and has been taking her kindergarten classes to Kedron Brook every fortnight since 2010. Bush Knowing Forest School was established in 2018 as a way to help Brisbane families get back to nature by offering a range of child-led play and exploration sessions.
How can we play safely in nature?
Before every Bush Knowing Forest School session we risk-assess our bush site. This includes the weather, the creek (including the water), and the flora and fauna from the ground to the upper canopy. We highlight any tripping areas (like fig tree roots) where we need to remind children to step with high knees. We also collect and dispose of any rubbish.
When you arrive for your session, we start with a mandatory safety talk. This briefing informs you, as a parent or primary caregiver, how to support your child (aged 12 months to five years) to play safely in nature. The briefing adjusts each week based on seasonality and the risk-assessment performed.
We can play safely in nature by:
- Looking after the environment
- No picking – anything living
- No licking – don’t put anything in your mouth
- Staying within the red roped area
- Listening to the words of adults at all times
Our rules for safe Nature Play
- The Red Rope: Our bush site is marked by low-hanging red ropes as a visual reminder to children about where we play. We teach children to “touch and turn” when they reach the red rope. Each week the placement of the red ropes can alter based on the bush site’s risk assessment. Please take the time to view the red rope locations with your child as you explore.
- Drop and plop: When playing in the creek, we only lift stones that are the size of a palm. We check to ensure we have a “safety bubble” around us (your child’s arm length) before bending down to pick up the stone. We drop the stone to “plop” into the water with bended knees.
- Snake safety: Snakes are native animals and an important part of our natural environment. We educate children and their caregivers to protect themselves, and these incrediblecreatures, by following these guidelines. We also host special Snake Safety visits from Reptile Adventures throughout the year.
- If you see a snake and it is very far away – stop and stamp your feet. The snake will feel the vibrations and hopefully slither away. Tell the nearest adult.
- If the snake is very close to your body – freeze. Stand still and call out for help.
Exploring the creek
Our beautiful bush site, located in the lands of the Turrbal and Jagera People, includes the tranquil Kedron Brook.
Kedron Brook is a diverse natural waterway that flows through the northern suburbs and supports a wide range of native flora and fauna.
At Bush Knowing Forest School, we observe and learn from the creek as the seasons and weather change. We weigh up every child’s need to be challenged and take risks throughout their learning journey and have developed a considered educational approach to our sessions ensuring every child’s interaction and connection with the creek continues in a safe, and balanced way. When it is safe to play in the creek, we always wear gumboots or closed-toed shoes. We don’t explore deeper that the height of our boots and parents must always be within arm’s reach of their child.
Got a question?
If you would like to know more about the benefits of nature play, or about how our sessions can support your child to engage with the outdoors safely, you can contact me via email, Facebook or Instagram. Alternatively, you can complete the form below.
I look forward to hearing from you!