Inclusive physical environments developed with natural elements and community support

Located on Wanaruah country, Aberdeen Preschool engages with their community and natural surroundings to create physical environments that make children feel safe and secure.

Image: Aberdeen Preschool outside deck area

Nominated Supervisor at Aberdeen Preschool, Sharon Jordan, has worked at the service for 21 years and shared that every educator at the service is passionate about the physical spaces, not only for the children and families, but for community and visitors as well.

“We get so much family and community support, allowing us to enhance and make the most of our physical environment, through donations of materials and people’s time,” Sharon shared.

“For example, we have been fortunate enough to get lots of donations of utensils such as pots, pans, teapots and plates for our sand pit and mud kitchen, not only from families but the wider community as well.

“A parent actually made a sink with wooden crates for us, and another family donated an oven, so we’re using real materials as well.”

As part of their service philosophy, educators at Aberdeen Preschool incorporate the natural environment into both their indoor and outdoor spaces as much as possible, encouraging children to build connections with their environments.

“We also have a huge range of natural resources both outside and indoors for children to utilise in their play,” Sharon said.

“Inside, we have an area dedicated to this full of natural materials the children have shown an interest in to extend them: bark, dirt, wood chips.”

Sharon shared the service was successful in obtaining a Department of Education Community Grant in 2021, using the funding to put awooden deck around an established tree in their playground which is now used all the time.

“This addition to our outdoor space has become a very valuable, as we can utilise the natural shade of the tree in so many different ways - from having lunch, to arts and crafts in the shade,” Sharon said.

“We've been able to see the significant benefits to our children who regularly participate in these outdoor rich environments and engage with nature.”

Learning to take responsibility for the environment is also a priority at Aberdeen, with the children helping with gardening, caring for the preschool’s chickens and cleaning up after themselves.

“We have regular conversations with the children about caring for our environment, and have a very passionate sustainability educator who manages our gardening and sustainability practices.”

Sharon shared family involvement and contributions have been an amazing support, including a donation of succulents which each child planted and continue to care for.

“Everything that we’ve developed over the years supports our philosophy of caring for our environment and bringing that home-like environment into the preschool,” Sharon said.

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