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‘All the things children can see’: understanding children’s noticing in bush kinders

Abstract

This paper presents data from interviews undertaken with teachers and parents of children who attend Australian bush kinders (kindergartens). The bush kinder approach is a recent adaptation of the European and UK forest school approaches, one that continues to gain momentum as increasingly teachers and parents come to understand the benefits associated with this type of outdoor learning environment. The research was undertaken using ethnography (Delamont, 1992; Madden, 2012), a useful method of research in this type of setting as ethnography enables a deep understanding of how children ‘notice’ in nature over time. The paper applies a discourse analysis (Gee, 2011) of teacher and parent interviews critically exploring the learning and development benefits children experience from attending a bush kinder program. Findings reveal that through their noticing, preschool children make a transition from being nature novices to nature experts. The data demonstrate the benefits preschool children can gain from learning and being ‘in’ and ‘with’ nature and the important role adults play recognising young children’s noticing in nature.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the study’s participants, the teachers, educators and preschool children for participating in the research.

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Correspondence to Chris Speldewinde.

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Ethics approval

Ethics approval has been granted for the study, HAE-15-016 Bush kinders – locating the science through Deakin University Faculty of Arts and Education Human Ethics Advisory Group (HEAG) on May 5, 2015.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Speldewinde, C., Kilderry, A. & Campbell, C. ‘All the things children can see’: understanding children’s noticing in bush kinders. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education 24, 151–167 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42322-021-00080-z

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Keywords

  • Bush kinders
  • Noticing
  • Early childhood education
  • Nature play
  • Forest schools