Appreciating nature

There are many benefits for children when connecting with nature. Being surrounded by nature and natural items provides endless learning opportunities. With the guidance of an adult, children are able to make discoveries about animate and inanimate objects. Having real-life items allows the children to delve more deeply with their investigations. At Ruyton Early Learning we strive to develop an appreciation of nature.

While we have always nurtured a child’s relationship with nature, since the arrival of Ms Jodie Mitchell, Co-Ed Pre Prep teacher, this year there has been a particular focus on nature in our programs. Jodie attended an international study tour in England and Scotland where she visited nature kindergartens, exploring the environments and experiences provided for their children as they transitioned to programs focused on nature.

The tour included Boldon Nursery School, which has been on a five-year journey to provide a more nature-based curriculum and Auchlone Nature Kindergarten, a centre that backs onto a forest, where the children spend much of their day exploring and engaging with nature. They build cubby houses and cook lunch over a campfire. Jodie believes that children should be given opportunities to play with the natural world as often as possible. Her appreciation for nature has certainly inspired our children and educators.

When planning the outdoor program, we seek to include as many elements as possible where there is interaction with the natural environment. Experiences such as gardening and the use of sand, soil and water are everyday essentials. Traditional indoor activities, such as listening to stories, or participating in art and dramatic play activities, acquire a fresh dimension when conducted outside. In autumn the children in the Co-Ed Pre Prep group had Relaxation Time in the outdoor play area. As they rested their bodies they listened to the numerous outdoor sounds, such as the wind blowing the autumn leaves from the trees and the call of birds overhead. They saw their world through a different lens as they looked up towards the sky filled with clouds, which transformed into moving shapes.

On any given day in our classrooms natural resources are provided in the program.

Natural materials are intentionally selected to invite children’s interest. Treasures such as sticks, shells, pods or river pebbles are arranged in play areas for children to investigate and manipulate. Children may use the items in open-ended ways with no set outcome. They can create patterns and build constructions as they interact with the materials. Outdoor elements, such as water and sand, can be brought in for pleasurable sensory experiences. A real sense of satisfaction is often observed when children engage with the hands-on exploration of nature.

Learning through nature assists children to increase their understanding of the world. It provides infinite learning possibilities. There is a sense of peace when taking time to ‘be’ in nature. Appreciating nature is an important aspect of learning for young children.

Ms Teresa Wojcik, acting director of Early Learning


As an independent, forward thinking girls’ school, Ruyton is committed to preparing girls for a lifetime of learning, leadership and […]

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