NT preschool kicks off Department of Education-backed Bush School pilot

by Jason Roberts

September 05

Millner Preschool, a 33-place Department of Education run preschool in the Northern Territory, has commenced a seven-week bush kinder trial called “The Bush School” with a visit to the nearby Rapid Creek catchment area. 

 

The pilot has been designed to gauge children’s levels of engagement and the extent of learning through nature-based play. 

 

The Rapid Creek Landcare area, located in the northern suburbs of Darwin, is the only significant fresh water system in Darwin and contains many opportunities to explore this natural ecosystem. 

 

Speaking about the pilot, preschool teacher Varn (Myfanwy) Baker said “The Bush School can provide a range of nature-based play benefits, including a decrease in behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression, better language and collaboration skills, greater stress-related resilience, and a stage for environmental care education.”

 

She also noted that this type of activity is becoming even more important to children given the high incidence of families living in apartments who have less opportunity for outside activity.

 

Some of the activities being conducted at The Bush School include art activities such as leaf window collage, rubbing, the construction of nature mobiles, pet rock painting, splatter leaf painting and papermaking and activities that develop collection, observation, and sorting skills using the five senses, introducee an environmental vocabulary and learn survival tips and first aid.

 

The school is held once a week on a Thursday. 

 

“This has been a highly successful initiative of our preschool team, and one we’d like to repeat each year during the cool months.”

 

The Northern Territory Department of Education has been actively promoting the importance of outdoor play through Bush Kindergarten related activities and as recently as August 2019 been instrumental in creating “buddy” systems between children attending Kindy in remote areas and those living in urban areas. 

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