Bush walks in the preschool

By Anna McLean – Preschool Deputy Principal

In the last year, we have extended the “rite of passage” activities of the 5-year-olds to include a weekly bush walk. This came out of an investigation into how we were implementing spontaneous science.

Our school programme provides many opportunities for this, so the recommendation was that we find a space beyond the preschool where tamariki could be in the outdoors and experience science in a wider, natural context.  After further investigation into how other centers achieved this and discussions within preschool, it was decided that the Rātā Street bush was ideal in proximity and suitability.

Tamariki investigating the natural wonders on Wā Ora’s back door step while on a walk in the Rātā Street bush, Naenae

With support from rangatahi (young people) from the high school and the parent community, we have been able to do a weekly walk into the bush. One of the key objectives of the bush walks has been that tamariki explore this place in all kinds of weather and in each season to experience the changes in the flora and fauna. Another key objective is for the play to be child initiated rather than being teacher led. Adults are in the background observing what interests the tamariki and posing questions to open up new avenues of thinking, but not getting involved or suggesting solutions to challenges.

The success of the activity prompted us to send in an application to MANZ to be considered for the Dr. Nicola Chisnall Memorial Award for 2019. The award recognises initiatives that make significant contributions to tamariki, families and communities.  Entries are voted for by the membership and the winner receives $500 as a contribution towards supporting or extending the work.  The award was set up in Nicola’s honour after she passed away from cancer in 2013.  Our links as a school, with both Nicola and her husband Dave, go right back to the establishment of Wā Ora in 1988.  They were both members of the group who started our school and Nicola was one of the first teachers here at that time.  Wā Ora was the inaugural winner of this award back in 2014 and so we are keen to try again!