STOKERS Siding Public School students are getting back to nature with the Far North Coast's first Nature Explorers Primary School program.
Based on the success of the Pottsville Beach Community Preschool Nature Explorers program, Stokers Siding principal Cherie King said she believed a nature-based initiative allowed children to get back to basics with the outdoors.
"I was highly motivated to discover what the research was saying, which is that the benefits are far reaching and have a noticeable impact on developing the whole child,” Ms King said.
"The combination of the research, our professional learning with the highly talented staff at Pottsville Beach Community Preschool and the Nature Explorers program made for an easy decision to work with our preschool colleagues.”
Based on the Forest School concept, the weekly two-hour program, which starts this week at the school, will have children engaging with outdoor activities to enhance their connection with the environment, their peers and themselves.
Ms King said the program will address the key learning areas, while building children's confidence and self-esteem, allowing them to take risks, problem solve, think for themselves, work as a team and develop an understanding of sustainability.
"It's about giving kids the opportunity to get back in nature, reconnecting with self-directed learning obviously with safety being the priority,” Ms King said.
"We're going to be guided by the interest of the kids (because) our kids are so imaginative.
"It's giving children the opportunity to climb trees, use tools and use fire under supervision with a purpose.
"We're going to use our creek which gives us an opportunity to do water bug surveys, if that's what the kids want. (We'll also) learn about snake safety and birds and actually being mindful through sitting and listening.”
Ms King said she believed the new program would allow children to come out of their shell if they're feeling stressed.
"The research says that the emotional benefits for children are just overwhelming,” she said.
"When you have children, and I'm not saying we have them here, that have more and more mental health issues, we need to be not just thinking about them as these little vessels that we've got to fill up, we've got to think about them as a whole person.”
Ms King said the school would initially run the Nature Explorers pilot program for students in Kindergarten to Year 2, however in 2018 the program will be available from Kindergarten to Year 6.