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Community & Business

5 December, 2021

Bush preschool building skills

Gilgandra Preschool has seen a significant improvement in the children’s imagination, problem solving and social skills since incorporating bush preschool into its curriculum earlier this year.

By Emily Middleton

Every week, Gilgandra Preschool students and teachers travel to a local property which has been kindly donated by Robyn and Chris Howard.

Here the children are free to play, build, discover, and learn about their surroundings, away from technology and the normal classroom.

Gilgandra Preschool director Kristy Hyndes said that the improvement in children’s confidence has skyrocketed.

“We’ve seen an increase in their social skills, because they have that need to socialise when they’re out there,” said Ms Hyndes.

“Their problem solving, and negotiation skills have increased as well, and we hardly ever have to step in for conflict resolution, they just sort themselves out.”

The development of new technologies and easy access to entertainment has resulted in a general decrease in children’s imaginative skills. The Australian child health poll in 2017 revealed that 36 per cent of pre-schoolers have their own mobile screen-based device, and 50 per cent of toddlers and pre-schoolers use screen-based devices on their own, without supervision. Imaginative play has decreased due to the fact that the colours, stories, and characters are handed to the children with ease.

But Ms Hyndes says that bush preschool has seen a significant increase in play, and believes the time away from technology, screens, and even just typical toys, has an incredible impact on the children.

“I have seen a huge increase in being able to use objects in imagination, like imaginative play, and being able to replace objects and use them as what they’re not actually intended for,” said Ms Hyndes.

When packing for bush preschool, the group brings nothing but their lunch. This way the children can remain engaged in their environment.

“I have noticed a huge increase in respect for the environment, they all now show a massive connection to the land.”

This includes respect for all animals and understanding that we are entering their home. Therefore, the children follow a strict rule of you leave nothing and you take nothing.

“The children just love it. They’ll often ask if it’s bush today. It’s them coming in and being able to share the stories with the other children, that they especially love. So even the children who aren’t participating on the program are involved because when they come back, they complete a project book,” said Ms Hyndes.

This is Gilgandra Preschool’s last week of bush preschool before it wraps up for the year.

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