THE VALUE OF BUSH PLAY
Hi, I'm Rose Demaria! Getting kids out into our Box Ironbark forest in Central Victoria...home to the Dja Dja Wurrung people, was an absolute imperative for me. I soon began to realise, through having my own children, now 22-14, that the push to teach children early through constructed environments, through a screen and mostly indoors did not foster their natural curiosity.
My Bush programs have evolved through weekly visits to our local reserve and experience of our local Indigenous seasons year after year. I have been getting to know and understand our local flora, fungi and fauna at the Reserve, the living earth that breathes and holds us as we learn to relate, understand and coexist with an awe and respect.
Like clock-work things appear again and again and I begin to feel I can truly understand the varied life-cycles this pocket of nature has to offer. Of course, I am still discovering the wealth and richness of life before me but the children and I are learning and deepening ourselves always.
I provide inclusive Early Years Nature Programs for children aged from 0 -8 years, including an early learning Bush Babes program for young families. This includes components of an Indigenous curriculum that offers local Djarra names for our local flora and fauna and explores cultural values through rhyme, songs, stories, bush craft and bush skills. We incorporate the rich Box Ironbark flora and fauna and our local Indigenous seasons.
Through our weekly rhythms, I encourage young children to spend more time outside in Nature, experiencing real time skills and challenges. The program offers sustainable practices through teaching children about their local environment, conservation and protection.
My love of nature, love of children and working with young families is a real driving force. I sense the importance of offering a program which puts Indigenous knowledge at its centre. I foster genuine respect for the earth, imbuing language, cultural values and inclusivity in Education, with specific focus on Early Years curriculum as it applies to the needs of young families in Central Victoria.
The primary focus of Bush Kinder and Bush Babies Playgroup is to feel and experience nature in a way that helps children to connect and reconnect with themselves and others; to discover their place within the world through their felt environment.
The programs celebrate nature's elements, we learn respect for the natural world around us and stand in awe before the magic of growth and change in all living things.
My role is to provide knowledge as opposed to education. I allow children the freedom to explore, navigate and challenge their beings in nature. I allow children to take measured risks with supervision and encourage space and time to move and so gain greater body confidence and body memory .
I have created and adapted songs, poems, rhymes and seasonal stories which relate to the varied forms of Box Ironbark flora and fauna, supported by educational themes which promote relevance in learning our place and identity. The children are immersed in child play.....sophisticated, imaginative play.. Unlike indoor play, play immersion and an emergent curriculum is deeply influenced by the elements and the living curriculum presented before us. I describe this learning as full bodied, reaching deeply on a cellular level. The body's rhythms become awakened to nature, its landscape and all living things within it. It is deeply connective.
I am passionate in my educational, consultancy & advocacy role. I would love to see Nature Education have a much greater role in our Early Years Framework. The emotional, physical and associated health gains are now well documented. As Educators, we have a a responsibility to allow children to grow in self expression. Too often I see Educators limited by their environments & their own attitudes so children are left uninspired and unchallenged. As care takers of the earth it is important to create a learning environment where every child has the chance to develop a deep relationship with the natural world. It is not only relevant to their identity but a necessity in their growth and development. An innate sense of interdependence forms and a greater awareness beigns to embed a responsiblitiy for and of nature. As we experience the changing rhythm of the earth, its minerals plants and animals, we too being to understand ourselves.