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Kinders set free to explore

ST Cuthbert’s Catholic School has dived headfirst into the wonders of nature-based play by establishing its very own ‘Bush Kinder’.

Kicking off the program late last month, 26 kinder students donned their matching red raincoats and walked the short distance from the school to Natone Hill in Lindisfarne.

Once there, the early learners were set free to explore the bushland and indulge their creativity.

St Cuthert’s Catholic School kinder/birth-to-five teacher Tamika Lowe said there was a lot of research that illustrated the benefits of nature-based play.

“For us, that kind of pedagogy is underlined in the way that we run our kinder and birth-to-five program,” she said.

“The reason we decided to start with this group of children is that our physical gross motor ability was sitting quite low.

“So, this meant we really needed to find an alternative to get the kids using those big muscles.

“We also have quite a lot of children in this group who are very creative and who would thrive in this type of setting, so we’re really hoping to see some lovely, beautiful creations.”

Ms Lowe said the Bush Kinder, which would happen for at least one hour every fortnight, would include whatever the children wanted.

“At the moment we’re not going to scaffold anything – we’re just going to see what the children do in this setting,” she said.

“But we have plans eventually to do a cook-up and make some marshmallows.

“We’re also speaking to Landcare about perhaps securing a grant and working with them to plant some more trees.

“The scope is quite large in regard to what we can do with this space.”

Ms Lowe said she hoped the program would tap into the children’s natural creativity.

She said the kids “absolutely loved” their first sessions.

“They were excited for a very long time and we had some very happy, smiling faces as they entered,” she said.

Caption: St Cuthbert’s Catholic School kinders, from left, Jack Lamont, Brystan Dare and Alexander Tzamarias.