Nature Play QLD is a program administered by Outdoors Queensland
Hamilton Rd &, Farnell St, Chermside QLD 4032

The Prince Charles Hospital Early Education Centre

Where is it?

Hamilton Rd &, Farnell St, Chermside QLD 4032

Category

Early Childhood Bush and Beach Kindy and Nature Programs

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The Prince Charles Hospital Early Education Centre is “No Ordinary Kindy’

The Prince Charles Hospital EEC is a 180-place service in the heart of Chermside. The service is continuously striving for excellence to provide outstanding learning experiences for all children enrolled. The service has formed a beautiful relationship with an Elder Aunty Gina, where professional conversations over a cuppa has developed the Centre culture, towards further embedding indigenous perspectives, to the next level. For example, Aunty Gina encourages the service to think differently about perspectives. From these professional conversations the service investigated different ways to teach children about indigenous culture, which led to the service organising an excursion to Bunyaville Environmental Education Centre for the children to participate in Bush Kindy through it’s “Deadly” program.  From this program, Educators saw firsthand the benefits of nature play which motivated the team to plan and implement a Bush Kindy program. The service discovered on the ground of the hospital is an indigenous bush/garden designed for visitors. The centre asked permission to use the area, and before we knew it Kindergarten were off on their first Bush Kindy experience.

Upon further reflection we wanted to embed a Bush Kindy program for all age groups. The team researched age-appropriate destinations within our local area. The commitment to providing children with natural spaces to live and learn is reflected within our own outdoor learning environment. We are incredibly fortunate to offer children an outdoor learning space that incorporates many natural elements that were purposely designed and built for our service.

In amongst the concrete jungle that we are situated, we are fortunate to be within walking distance to Beneke’s Reserve on the grounds of The Prince Charles Hospital and a short drive away from Raven Street reserve.

We began reflecting as a team about our service location within our community and the potential for regular outings into the beautiful natural spaces that boarder our service. We started our journey through researching articles to establish the benefits for learning and development for children. Through our research, we came across several inspirational services that have embedded Bush Kindy programs into their services.

Our team of dedicated and enthusiastic educators discussed frequently as new research, inspiration and ideas were found. They were shared and reflected upon with our vision becoming clearer and clearer for the program we were working towards embedding. Whilst we continued to research and plan our offsite Bush Kindy program, our team of passionate educators continued to embedded nature play within our own surrounds. The use of upcycled and loose parts continued to be a big part of our outdoor and indoor environments, using them in provocations to encourage children to express wonder, curiosity and think outside the norm to further extend upon their own learning.

The service is very lucky to have two Centre buses, so before we knew it, we had another 2-great Bush Kindy locations. With a well-established Bush Kindy program, the team had many robust conversations around how we could possibly extend our nature play program. We are so lucky to live in a spectacular part of Australia, the southeast coast. We are surrounded by beautiful bushlands and beaches. After discussions with our community and very eager families and Educators we began our journey towards implementing a Beach Kindy program. The centre created a calendar and planned out excursions for alternating Bush Kindy and Beach Kindy bi-monthly. This was to ensure all children in the service can be involved and exposed to our amazing programs with wonderful learning opportunities. Each excursion so far saw us promoting agency, independence, and leadership within the children.
The service is passionate about nature play from an early age. We believe children learn best outdoors in an environment that provides challenges and elements essential to well-rounded learning.

The centre has incorporated Beach/ Bush Kindy program that provides up to 3 hours of uninterrupted play, using what nature has provided them with as well as fundamental real-life tools and resources

Nature play is intrinsically inviting and motivating which promotes engagement in play from diverse learning opportunities which are essential for healthy physical, social, and psychological experience, growth, and development.

As part of their Bush/Beach Kindy Program, the children learn about the world around them and connect with nature whilst always acknowledging the traditional landowners – the Turrbal people. Children are given the chance to explore and learn new things, climbing, running, and inadvertently expanding upon their gross motor skills. Exploring the plants, trees, rocks, and water creating spontaneous conversation, interactions, and valuable risk-taking opportunities. The sessions are unstructured and initiated by the children, to inspire problem solving and promote self-confidence.

These Beach and Bush Kindy sites have been chosen as they give a comfortable area for children to explore, learn and play. They all provide clear lines of sites with natural boundaries easily identified by staff children and volunteers. It also offers opportunities to expand into different environments when the group wishes to explore just that bit further when the need or interest arises. The sites are also a short drive from the service, which is an added benefit.

Our offsite Beach and Bush Kindy program runs one to two days per week (Monday to Friday). Parents are notified within an appropriate time frame of the planned day for the week ahead. Our Educators have made a commitment to strive for the provision of regular access to the Beach and Bush Kindy location. Children participating in our Beach and Bush Kindy program leave the Centre between 9:30am and 10am and return to the Centre by 12pm on the days they visit the offsite Kindy locations.

 

Why Beach and Bush Kindy?

Beach and Bush Kindy takes learning to the beach and bush – encouraging children to use nature’s resources to initiate learning while exploring the environment around them.

Beach and Bush Kindy is an important program at The Prince Charles Hospital EEC, all children are given the opportunity to take part. As a group, we make regular visits to Raven Street, Bunyaville, Decker Park and Sandgate beach giving our children the opportunity to explore the beach and the bush with the different beach and bush and several local landmarks. Our Beach and Bush Kindy program has been carefully considered and designed with the Australian context in mind.

Why Beach Kindy is so Important to us?

There are so many benefits to Beach and Bush Kindy, not least that it’s a fun and exciting experience for the children. However, the bush and coastline setting also provide endless opportunities to support our Learning for Life philosophy and develop children’s physical, language, social and cognitive skills.

When children see beauty in nature, they learn to respect the world around them. There are so many benefits to nature play including helping to stimulate children’s immune system, increasing the opportunity for exercise and physical activity, fuelling their imagination and improving language skills.

Children who play in natural surroundings are also more resistant to stress, have lower incidences of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression. They have a higher sense of self-worth and develop more positive feelings about each other (“Play & Nature Play | Maggie Dent”, 2021). A strong sense of calm is achieved during and after Beach Kindy visits, which helps children maintain a positive self-concept, manage their emotions and interact positively with their peers.