Bush/nature kindergarten (ECO Learning Network)

Bush/nature kindergarten training equips educators to establish place-based outdoor learning programs in Victoria.

Program details

  • Priority area: Wellbeing (social and emotional)
  • Primary audience: Educators
  • Delivery mode: Group training, coaching, consultancy, online
  • Strength of evidence: Level 5 – Foundational research evidence
  • AEDC sub-domains:
    • Social competence responsibility and respect
    • Physical health and wellbeing physical independence
  • Item cost: Moderate ($200–$2,000 per person/item)

Program description

The Bush/nature kindergarten training packages from the Early Childhood Outdoor Learning (ECO) Learning Network are designed to assist and guide educators and services to establish place-based outdoor learning programs in Victoria. The training packages are run by teachers who are currently running nature programs in their services. Training options include:

Option 1: Training package (dates set by the ECO Learning Network)

This 3-session package provides pedagogical knowledge and practical information about setting up a nature program. It includes a site visit to a nature kindergarten and a follow-up consultation. Participants learn how to develop a place-based outdoor learning program, including tools to:

  • create a program in their local environment (such as the bush, the beach or a park)
  • meet regulatory obligations
  • develop relationships with land managers
  • develop the program and documentation
  • foreground First Peoples perspectives in outdoor programs.

Option 2: Individual service training package

This includes all aspects of option 1 but is delivered at a single service and personalised for a team of educators. This training package can be run over 2 days without site visits, or 3 days with site visits. Training can be delivered in any region in Victoria. This will also include a follow-up consultation after the training is completed.

Option 3: Community training package

This training package includes all aspects of option 1 but delivered within your local area with other local services over 2 consecutive days.

Option 4: Coaching and support

Individualised coaching packages to offer professional support teams developing or currently running a nature kindergarten program. Topics include:

  • planning and documentation
  • site selection
  • sustainability and social justice
  • learning experiences that can be applied to the nature spaces
  • topics as requested by teaching teams or services.

Please contact the network for further information.

Option 5: Coaching to develop practice for existing nature programs

Individualised coaching packages to work with educators who have already started a nature program and are interested in further support through critical reflective practice.

Option 6: Whole-community engagement

This includes presentations to families, teaching teams, local councils and/or land managers that support the development of nature programs in a local area, outlining the benefits for children and communities.

Option 7: ECO Learning Network annual conference

Participation in the annual conference held in March or April. The conference draws together local and international speakers who support educators' interest in nature programs and embed First Peoples perspectives.


During COVID-19 restrictions training packages 13 can be delivered online over 2 days.

Detailed cost

  • Option 1 - Training package (dates set by the ECO Learning Network): $800 per person
  • Option 2 - Individual service training package: Total cost approximately $6,000. Please contact the provider for a quote
  • Option 3 - Community training package: Cost $700 per person, with a minimum attendance requirement of 10 people
  • Option 4- Coaching and support: Cost $215 for initial one hour consultation, then $150 per hour, plus travel (see travel costs outlined below)
  • Option 5 - Coaching to develop practice for existing nature programs: Cost $215 for initial one hour consultation, then $150 per hour, plus travel (see travel costs outlined below)
  • Option 6 - Whole-community engagement: Cost $750 per hour, plus travel (see travel costs outlined below)
  • Option 7 - ECO Learning Network annual conference: $160 for 2 days ($100 concession) including one day online and one day workshops at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. $60 for online only
  • ECO Learning Network can combine the above options into a package. Contact provider for a quote
  • ECOLN charges travel and accommodation costs as follows:
    • within a 250 km radius of Melbourne: 75 cents per km, plus a $40 fee per presenter to cover any additional costs incurred
    • for services outside of the 250km radius: 75 cents per km plus there may be additional costs if an extra night's stay is required or if presenters are required to fly to the site
    • accommodation is charged at $160 per night per presenter
  • Services should also consider backfill costs
  • Administration fees will be applied

Implementation considerations

  • Target population: early childhood education and care services.
  • Program/practice descriptions and details: training delivered over 3 days is broken down as follows: day one is an introduction, day 2 is a site visit and day 3 concentrates on planning.
  • Staffing: services should consider the cost of backfill when determining the cost of accessing this program.
  • Training requirements: there are no pre-requisites for participants to attend this training.

VEYLDF alignment

Item uses these practice principles

  • Reflective practice
  • High expectations for every child
  • Integrated teaching and learning approaches
  • Partnerships with professionals

Item responds to these sub-outcomes

  • Children become strong in their social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing
  • Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing