Bush kinder workshops for educators

March 17, 2024 BY

Mucking in: Co-Founder and Director of Wildlings Forest School in Queensland, Vicci Oliver (centre), will be bringing bush kinder workshops for educators to Bendigo in May, in partnership with WildPlay Co. Photo: ALIX CLARKE PHOTOGRAPHY

A FOREST school in Queensland will be partnering with one in Bendigo, WildPlay Co, to deliver workshops in town for educators wanting to facilitate bush kinder programs.

Bush kinders have been steadily growing in popularity over the past decade or so. Last year, the Victorian Government allocated $3.6 million for 150 bush kinder programs each year over four years.

Co-Founder and director of Wildlings Forest School, Vicci Oliver, said the training program is about empowering educators with managing the types of challenges that come from supervising children outdoors.

“We’ve been running a forest school in Queensland for the past seven years, and we have developed a really comprehensive course to teach other educators.

“Whether that’s in early childhood settings or in schools, how to deliver an outdoor program that really allows children a lot more freedom and opportunity to take developmentally appropriate risks, but also just experience a lot more autonomy than we can often afford them in the classroom.

“We do a lot of things like teaching them how to supervise campfire, cooking around campfire, and using tools so that children can experiment and be creative with things they find in nature, with the focus on teaching children how to do these things safely.”

She said the training would include everything from the philosophy of bush schools to logistics and practice

“You’re really grounded in knowing why you’re doing it, all the way through to risk assessment, ensuring that you’ve got all the paperwork in place… and ensuring that we’re doing things safely.

“For many educators it can be a very new space for them, so ensuring that they’ve got a really solid grasp of policy and procedure that we put in place to keep children safe, without watering down the experience.”

Ms Oliver said educators from the Queensland school were travelling to different places in Australia to help deliver such programs, as she said training is limited, in the past being presented by people from England.

“While their training has been fantastic, we believe we’ve got a more contextualised understanding of the challenges that we have in Australia.

The workshops in Bendigo will be held in May, and more information will be made available closer to the date.