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Community & Business

28 July, 2022

Preschool purchases Pine Park

Gilgandra Preschool has recently purchased a block of land, to use as their new ‘bush preschool’.

By Emily Middleton

‘Pine Park’ is approximately 25 acres, situated on Federation Street, and will allow for greater space and more involvement in the preschool’s nature play program.

Nature play is when children are able to engage in unstructured activities outdoors, with no toys, screens, or conventional play equipment. They are encouraged to use trees, sticks, rocks, and their imagination.

The preschool prides themselves on their nature program, and are excited to use land that is their own.

“The parent committee and I discussed it, and they were very keen for us to purchase,” said Gilgandra Preschool director, Kristy Hyndes.

“We wanted something that would secure the longevity of the program. We are currently on an ex-grandparent’s property, and now just seemed like the perfect time.”

The program is offered to a restricted number of students due to liability of travel out to the existing property, as well as staff shortages. While there is currently a waiting list for the program, this new land will hopefully enable an increased capacity.

“At the moment we are 11-12 kilometres out, so it’s a bit hard to have more children with all the regulations and things for transport and supervision. So we wanted something that was accessible and close,” explained Ms Hyndes.

“Not that we ever want to move from our beautiful grandparent that has given us the opportunity to do bush preschool there, it is lovely out there, but it’s nice to have something that’s ours,” said Gilgandra Preschool’s assistant director, Joanne Buckland.

The online auction for the site happened on June 1, and was settled on July 1.

“It was a huge surprise for our staff, and they are all over the moon. They can’t wait to start taking the children here.”

Money from Gilgandra Preschool’s savings ensured the purchasing of the property. Ms Hyndes says that their extensive budgeting and savings has made the purchase possible.

Ms Hyndes said that while the preschool has just been upgraded, and they have put in the capital works, Gilgandra Preschool is still situated on council land. She said that Pine Park is “actually the preschools now”.

In recent years, there has been a lot of research into the benefits of bush preschool.

 “Deakin University has done research into the benefits of a nature program for school age children, and we already know the benefits from the bush program that we’ve already done. But now it’s getting researched and getting published of how well children are doing at school, who have been immersed in nature programs,” said Ms Hyndes. The program will run on both sites, with the main activity and higher capacity in ‘Pine Park’.

“I’ve linked in with the grandparents, and we’ll still do some visits out there just so we can keep that connection with what we’ve already done,” said Ms Hyndes.

Children won’t be able to start accessing ‘Pine Park’ until next year, as the team need to make sure everything is safe and ready.

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