Preshil: Connecting to Country at Bush School

Brought to you by Preshil - The Margaret Lyttle Memorial School

Each week, the children in the Preshil Kindergarten and their friends in the Prep class gather together in our very own Bush Nook, we call The Pines, for their Bush School morning. They always begin by sharing an Acknowledgement of Country. 

“We Acknowledge the People of the Kulin Nation.  
Together we touch the ground of the land. 
We reach for the sky that covers the land. 
We cover our hearts to take care of the land.”  

A typical Bush School morning will include water play, searching for creatures, climbing the old pine tree stumps and the peppercorn trees, and making potions and creations. Many mornings the fire will be lit; damper or potatoes cooked; or chai tea brewed for sharing.

The children’s active care for this small plot of bush within our school campus helps to connect the children to the history of place and Country. Preshil is committed to the enduring concept of Indigenous custodianship. To this end, Preshil has partnered with Boroondara Schools for Wildlife, CERES and with Green Link Nursery to ensure that this plot of land is regenerated with plants indigenous to the area. This important action is providing the children with a lived experience of custodianship — linking their care for the bush classroom to the larger idea of Care for Country.

At Preshil, Bush School in The Pines is the first step in a larger program of providing opportunities to connect children to the natural environment. For many years, the children from Grades 1 & 2 through to Grades 5 & 6 have been engaged in bush school programs in which they spend time both in the bush classroom, and in local bush lands or coastal parks. These excursions are always framed with an Acknowledgement of Country to support an emerging understanding of the history all around us in Naarm.

As the children grow, so too does their horizon, so that by the time our children leave the primary campus, they have had a range of experiences in diverse natural settings, culminating in hikes and overnight camps.

At a time when many young people are feeling a level of despair with the persistent inaction on Climate Change, our children are experiencing the beauty and significance of Country, they are developing their own relationship to the natural world which they will grow up to care for deeply, and to protect.

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