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Bush kinders

Explore how outdoor learning benefits children and get access to grants and planning resources.

What is bush kinder? 

Bush kinder programs are educational sessions for children that take place outdoors in nature. These natural spaces can include: 

  • metropolitan parks 
  • regional parks 
  • local bushland 
  • local beaches 
  • visitor sites within national and state parks. 

Children at bush kinders get to learn through play with natural materials outside. It's like a fun classroom in nature. 

Experts in children's learning say outdoor play is important for children’s learning and wellbeing. It helps children grow physically and mentally and helps them learn how to handle risks. This approach lines up with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF)(opens in a new window) and the National Quality Framework (NQF)(opens in a new window).

The benefits of bush kinder

Spending more time outdoors in bush kinder programs can make a big difference for children. It helps with:

  1. Wellbeing and physical development, like strength, co-ordination, balance, eyesight and endurance.
  2. Understanding things like science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in a hands-on way.
  3. Learning to make smart choices and explore new things while staying safe.
  4. Feeling closer to nature and caring about environmental sustainability as they grow up.

Planning for a bush kinder

Services should give careful consideration to the planning and development of a bush kinder program. 

This includes: 

  • consulting and communicating with parents and families 
  • choosing a suitable outdoor site 
  • reviewing service policies and procedures 
  • conducting risk assessments 
  • outlining program delivery requirements 
  • developing an educational program. 

For support in your planning, refer to these resources: 

Bush Kinder Grants Program 

We're investing $3.6 million over 4 years to deliver bush kinder programs in 150 kindergartens each year. Each of these kindergartens gets a $6,000 grant to help them create nature programs. This means more chances for children to play outside and learn.

Applications for the Bush Kinder Grants Program are currently closed. A list of services successful in the 2023 grant round is now available on the Bush Kinder Grants Program(opens in a new window) web page. The 2024 grant round will open in the second half of 2024. 

Bush kinder videos 

Koorie Kids Shine 

Watch this video to see how bush kinder and learning outdoors make a positive difference for children. 

The short video is for educators thinking about bringing the local natural environment into learning. It's also useful for kindergartens interested in starting a bush kinder program. 

Yarra Bend bush kinder

Watch the video below to see how children learn and explore in nature, showing the benefits of outdoor learning. 

Yarra Bend bush kinder

Watch the video below to see how children learn and explore in nature, showing the benefits of outdoor learning.

Outdoor Pedagogy Portal

All educators in Victoria can use the Victorian Educators Outdoor Pedagogy Portal for free. This portal is designed to inspire outdoor teaching and support diversity in learning environments. It offers: 

  • a professional learning module 
  • online books 
  • case studies on outdoor learning. 

Victorians Value Nature 

The Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action is working on a program to help people in Victoria feel more connected to nature. They're studying and testing ways to encourage everyone to appreciate and protect biodiversity. 

This program, called Victorians Value Nature, is part of a 20-year plan: Protecting Victoria's Environment – Biodiversity 2037. It involves a large group of people working together, and they check progress every year with a community survey.