Our bush school setting allows us to bring nature into our learning activities on a regular basis, helping students develop a healthy relationship with the natural world.
Our bush school setting
The Village School campus is 8 acres of land set amongst bushland in Croydon North, a leafy outer eastern suburb of Melbourne.
Along with the many trees scattered throughout the grounds, at the north end of the campus is an area of natural bush that we call the “wetlands”.
This area includes a walking path that allows students to engage with the plants and animals that occur naturally in the wetlands.
To the east of the school grounds runs Brushy Creek, which includes a nature reserve that expands the natural setting of the school even further.
Bush school learning at Village School
Exploring nature and experimenting, creating, playing and getting dirty in the great outdoors is an everyday occurrence at Village School.
Although we are not a full-time bush school (also known as a forest school), we incorporate our amazing natural setting into our learning activities wherever we can.
And the many benefits of bush school learning align closely with our general approach to learning at Village School.
Our expansive grounds and bush setting gives children plenty of space to be physically active, whether that’s building a cubby or running around with friends.
Movement occurs naturally as children care for our school farm animals or wander through the wetlands looking at the plants and animals that thrive there.
Nature provides our students with so many different opportunities to get creative and solve problems.
Whether that’s figuring out how to get from log to log, or inventing a new game or an entire imaginary world based on the outdoor world, children’s creativity soars in nature.
Our bush setting also encourages exploration and discovery, with learning opportunities that would never occur in a typical classroom setting, like wondering how deep the puddles are, or what amazing creature you’ll find under the next rock.
Bush play is also very self-directed, allowing children to notice something that interests them, and then investigate further.
No matter what children are currently interested in, there are ways to connect that to the outdoors and keep their learning in high gear.
Our bush school setting also gives students a lot of freedom – freedom to explore, freedom to make choices, freedom to learn.
And with those freedoms come responsibilities and consequences that help our students learn valuable skills and develop self-awareness and self-regulation.
In our busy modern world, children don’t get as many chances to get their hands into the dirt, but our bush setting helps address this imbalance.
Our children are often found knee-deep in puddles or immersed in mud-pie making, which may require a change of clothes, but is always worth the price of admission.
Time outside contributes greatly to overall well-being in students, with a reduction in anxiety, an increase in confidence and a better connection to self and others.
And the learning outcomes of hands-on bush play that emerge naturally are understood and absorbed much more easily, making learning fun and engaging.
Examples of bush school activities
By interacting with our bush school environment, our children develop important skills and a strong connection with nature.
The children had a project to make more dwellings for the possums in the bush. In groups of two or three they designed, modified then built possum houses to go in the trees.
A pathway was developed through part of the wetlands, called the Mary Walk, after a past beloved school principal.
Some students were involved in the mosaic sign at the start of the walk, some laid the path with mulch and others developed signs for the environmental features on the walk.
Turning rubbish into art
Working with an artist in residence the children collected every bit of rubbish they could find in the school.
They filled recycled car tyres with this rubbish in the shape of seating and a couple of garden beds. They then assisted in rendering this to create an “outdoor classroom”.
Our learning programs
For more information on our learning programs, please see: