Kornmehl pre-schoolers go bush

July 6, 2018 by Michelle Favero
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Australian and international research shows that children are spending too much time indoors and in front of screens according to Sydney’s Emanuel School.

Sam Nathan and Tom Shilbury

This shift is contributing to health problems such as increased anxiety and obesity, and at the same time children are suffering from a lack of connection with nature and the outside world.  Kornmehl Centre Emanuel Pre-school educators have been helping to turn this trend around by giving children a chance to spend quality time in nature, encouraging them to explore and learn through Bush School.

Kornmehl Pre-school’sBush School program is held outdoors at Centennial Park and children are encouraged to take the lead in playing, exploring and learning in a natural environment. Bush School provides the children with the time and an ideal environment in which to learn with 3 hours of uninterrupted play in the bush, using what nature has provided as learning materials.

Bush School recognises the place that outdoors has in Australian culture and the significance of the land in Aboriginal culture.Grace, aged 5 years, so capably commented: “Thank you for keeping the land how it was before.” Ori, aged 4, said: “Thank you for respecting our land.”

Terry Aizen, Director of The Kornmehl Centre Emanuel Pre-school, said: “The children benefit from using only what nature has provided. We visit the site on a regular basis, over an extended period of time. This allows the children to develop confidence, familiarity, connection and new skills in their own time.”

Sophie Lawson and Joshua Jacobson

American journalist Richard Louv ignited an international movement to reconnect children and nature in his book,Lost Child in the Woods, describing children in the Western World as having “nature deficit disorder”. He states: “In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy and privacy: a place distant from the adult world, a separate place which is in fact a secret dream world that children explore and learn from”.

At Bush School, Kornmehl Pre-schoolers have the opportunity to roll down grassy mounds, balance on fallen logs, climb tree stumps and tree branches, get involved in dramatic play, find insects, create patterns using leaves and sticks and learn about local bird life, flora and fauna.

Educators support the children to take risks and face challenges, which are essential to well-rounded learning. Aizen continues: “Through play the children connect with and respect the space. We aim to develop each child’s perseverance and resilience and the children are able to experience the natural cycle of the seasons. Bush School helps to create the foundation for sustainable citizens. It is crucial to each child’s overall well-being and social integration.Parents and grandparents accompany us on the excursions. Feedback from them is always positive and insightful.”

Grandparent Janice Eliovson commented: “Bush School… what a delightfully rich natural setting to immerse young minds into. I have noticed that revisiting the same location, time after time, gives the children the opportunities to continue their explorations with a previously visited interest and love. Every child seems to love their own experience equally and is completely immersed in nature and seems to adore the freedom of space and ability to explore in ways that they may not usually get the chance to do.

“I have seen how the excursions to Bush School help the children to discover and integrate information about the world they live in.  It also, very importantly, allows the children to be children, free to explore and discover.”

Emanuel School Principal Andrew Watt, a strong advocate of Bush School, is delighted that the program has become an integrated and integral part of the Pre-school program, embedded deeply into the Centre’s philosophy. “Bush School draws upon and extends the existing philosophy and pedagogy of the Pre-school, to offer a unique educational program. No toys, No tools, No art supplies.

“The Bush offers the children a sensory experience with opportunities to immerse themselves in the wonder of nature.”

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