A new bush kindy program is enabling children from ages three to six years at Flinders Early Learning Centre (FELC) in Buderim to learn and explore through nature play as they take daily visits into the neighbouring wetlands. FELC director Jo Osborne explains the bush kindy program enables small groups of 10 children at a time, along with two specialist teachers, to explore and engage in the forest that runs between FELC and Matthew Flinders Anglican College. “We are excited to see how innately and positively the children are embracing their bush kindy program,” Jo says. “Their daily visits into the wetlands have enhanced a deep curiosity about the world in which they live, how it works, and their place in it,” she said. “The children have been busy - mapping the forest space, considering the natural landmarks and any distinguishing features, and identifying the flora and fauna native to our unique place in the world. “As a result, they now understand the concept of sustainability and have taken on the shared responsibility of stewards of the land. “They feel a sense of ownership, intimacy and care for this forest space; it is beautiful to witness.” Flinders principal Stuart Meade says the FELC bush kindy program, which has been developing over the past two years and is now an official offering, is a vital focus for the Early Years. “The bush kindy program at FELC is an important and expansive offering for our youngest Flinderians,” Mr Meade said. “It’s heartening to see children exploring and feeling confident in nature,” he said. “The skills, partnerships and enjoyment they are deriving from this forest experience are important not only for their creativity and social strengths, but also for their long-term health and wellbeing as they develop a lifelong affinity for the outdoors.” The wetland area that borders FELC and Flinders’ grounds is home to diverse native species, including coffee plants, eucalyptus trees, gum trees, vines and creepers, and has a small creek that runs through. Opened in February 2007, the Flinders Early Learning Centre is a purpose-built facility specifically designed for three- to six-year-olds that delivers creative Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten programs to 120 families in a magical rainforest setting in Buderim, Queensland.