Kinglake Ranges Children’s Centre Bush Kindergarten is a finalist in the 2019 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards
In February 2009, the Black Saturday bushfires burnt the Kinglake Ranges to the ground. More than ten years on, the community is still coming to terms with the devastating loss of life, property and community caused by the fires.
The Kinglake Ranges Children’s Centre established a bush kinder program following some critical reflection as to why they were seeing extreme behaviours from children at all levels across the centre. Anxiety and stressed children were common, and centre educators believed this was linked to ongoing trauma from witnessing the devastation caused by the bushfires. Children in the Kinglake Ranges were also significantly behind in terms of school readiness compared to national averages.
The bush kinder program provides children with the opportunity to learn about bushfires and recovery. Following its implementation, educators have seen a reduction in adverse behaviours in children and have recorded a significant improvement in school readiness.