A bush kindy program is growing thanks to a collaboration between the Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Education team and the region’s park rangers.
The program, which began in 2016, has grown from a once-off excursion to Para Wirra Conservation Park to an ongoing initiative giving young children a regular chance to explore, be curious and lead their own play in national parks.
Creating a bush kindy was a natural progression for NRM Education, following on from its work embedding sustainability into school curriculums and supporting preschools to use their outdoor spaces for learning and nature play, along with rangers encouraging people of all ages to enjoy national parks.
The program was initiated when the Adams Road Children's Centre decided to incorporate nature play to give children a renewed connection to, and appreciation for, the environment. With limited space and not having a suitable area nearby, the centre contacted the rangers to see if they could visit the park.
A space for the kindy was identified with rangers organising sustainably-sourced materials (e.g. branches) to be dropped off for cubby building. The children also used the schools in parks resources that rangers and NRM Education had previously collaborated on.
Due to the day’s success, the centre developed a program to hold kindy in the park every Wednesday in terms two and three.
A great and unexpected result is that the children’s families have been motivated to explore national parks on the weekend, enjoying activities such as camping, bush walking and bike riding.
The bush kindy program has now grown to include Anstey Hill Recreation Park and Belair National Park.