John Brotchie Nursery School

Capable, Confident and Creative Children

Telephone02 9316 8825

Bush School

Connect, respect, discover

What is Bush School? 

John Brotchie's Bush School is an innovative program, which we started in 2014. Bush School is based on the Scandinavian approach to early childhood education known as Forest Schools.

The Forest School approach has had a large impact on early childhood education right across the world including the UK, North America, New Zealand and more recently in Australia.

The key aspect of the Forest School approach is that children spend long periods of time outside all year and weather round. The children are involved in unstructured play within the local natural environment.

Why Bush School?

According to recent research, "one in ten Aussie kids play outside once a week or less. We have become a nation of indoors, not outdoors" (From Climbing Trees: Getting Aussie Kids Back Outside, 2013).

We, like many other parents have vivid memories of playing outdoors, in trees, creeks and rugged parks for long periods of time, with the other kids in the street, away from the safe gaze of our parents, staying out till the street lights came on.

Our children play in very safe playgrounds or are involved in structured, organised sports and training events, more and more children spend time inside on devices such as computers, iPads and gaming consoles. 

An Australian survey showed a substantial decline in just one generation, with 73 % of parents saying they played outside more than inside compared to their children with only 13% saying their children played outside more than inside.

There is a growing body of research, which strongly indicates that the benefits of active outdoor play are profound.

Children with significant time outside had greater development in concentration, play, creativity, physical development and social skills.

From an environmental perspective, children who learn outdoors develop a deeper understanding of conservation and environmental issues.

Research conducted on children who attend Scandinavian Forest Schools compared to children who attended regular Nursery Schools displayed the following attributes:

  • Better social skills – a positive effect on children's social relationships including sharing, turn taking, team work, discussing and constructing collective meanings. Fewer conflicts, outdoors helps the children to work together, follow rules and negotiate.
  • More attentive – in the outdoors children are more attentive, have better powers of memory and concentrate on activities for longer periods. Nature's diversity gives the opportunity for various sensory experiences and can stimulate children's desire to investigate and experiment. Better brain function, being outdoors is essential for brain function.
  • Fewer infections and better general health – being active develops vital muscle-tone and increases weight controlling hormones. Nature and being outdoors alleviates stress. Children had fewer days off school
  • Better language development – children use more complex language and construct longer sentences outdoors. Nature provides varied experiences that encourage conversation, questioning and answering.
  • Vital life skills – by taking risks, challenges and being in a ‘wilder' environment children learn how to take care of themselves and others. It teachers them how to solve problems and be resilient.

Our vision for Bush School:

Bush School's desire is for the children to reconnect and appreciate the natural world.

We aim to provide an unhurried time to play and explore in a local natural parkland setting. We will give the children opportunities to connect with our natural environment, the local community and learn about our local indigenous cultural history.

Bush School is a ‘wilder' environment where risk and challenge is part of the experiences. Children with the support of educators will build resilience, problem solving, teamwork, risk-taking and a sense of wonder.

Through children's experiences at John Brotchie's Bush School we would love to inspire others, families, educators and members of our local community to connect and use our local parkland's.

Bush School at John Brotchie:

All our children take part in Bush School and each child spends two terms at Bush School usually around 15 weeks. We run Bush School on Tuesday and Fridays in a local parkland approximately 1km walk from our preschool.

Bush School is an all weather activity and children attend on rainy days. The preschool provides wet weather gear and gumboots for the children to protect them from the weather. We also provide Bush School hats and vests for the children so they are easily visible while walking to and playing at Bush School.

Once the children arrive at Bush School? they are free to play within the natural environment. Their favourite experiences include tree climbing, running, stick play, imaginary play, art with collected nature and other made up or familiar games.

Parent volunteers are always welcome and very helpful at Bush School.