Sydney❜s Best Bush Schools

  • Preschoolers

Connecting children with nature so they can play, learn, and explore with something more real than toys isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. The Forest Kindergarten, or “Waldkindergarten”, is a concept that was developed in Scandinavia as far back as the 1950s and is described as a classroom without walls or a ceiling.

Aside from bonding with the environment, learning outdoors in nature completely without the use of commercial toys and objects that have a predefined purpose is believed to inspire children to think for themselves. Balance and agility, manual dexterity, coordination, and tactile sensitivity are further skills that can be gained from learning outdoors.    

The Waldkindergarten concept has been adopted here in Australia but we like to refer to it as “Bush School” or “Bush Kindy”. These programs are often run as part of a school or preschool curriculum to ensure that we don’t progress further into a nation of indoors and not outdoors. If you’re keen for your child to appreciate the natural world, here are some of the Best Bush Schools in Sydney. 

Sydney's Best Bush Schools

Bush School Playgroups and Holiday Activities

1. Wild Earthlings

Wild Earthlings
Wild Earthlings (formerly Bush Balance)

Wild Earthlings (formerly Bush Balance) is an outdoor, all-weather playgroup for young children aged 6 months - 8 years old and their carers, providing young minds with the time, space, and freedom to really explore and immerse themselves in nature.

Wild Earthlings run in Sydney Park, Alexandria, Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills, and Wolli Creek Regional Park, Earlwood. They also offer a homeschool session at Cumberland State Forest for school-aged children.

Different activities and play opportunities are offered each week, such as painting, tools, buckets, magnifying glasses, ropes and books, and more. Wild Earthlings provides a child-led experience where children are free to initiate and design their own play.

Locations: Multiple throughout Sydney - check out Wild Earthlings for more details

2. Bush School At Centennial Park

Centennial Park Bush School
Little hands will love connecting with nature at Centennial Park's iconic Bush School.

What better natural environment than the stunning Centennial Park's Bush School? Kids aged 5 to 12 get to relish and learn in the natural beauty of Sydney’s sprawling parkland in a 10-week nature play program that is uniquely Australian.

Bush School at Centennial Park is an NSW Curriculum-based program that teaches the fundamentals of literacy, numeracy, geography, arts and science through nature-based activities. These weekly 2-hour sessions include storytelling, free outdoor play, and art-making and are ideal for children eager to learn, connect, and just have fun with nature.

Location: Fearnley Drive, Centennial Parklands

RELATED: ellaslist Reviews: We Tried A Term of Centennial Park's Bush School Program

3. Bush Kids Lane Cove

Lane Cove Bush School
Plenty of immersive nature-based activities await at Lane Cove Bush Kids.

If you’re looking for a bush school program during term time or school holidays, Lane Cove Bush Kids has been nurturing kids through bush play since 2011. Established by the Lane Cove Bushland & Conservation Society, Bush Kids Lane Cove’s vision is to teach children between the ages of 2 to 10 the importance of learning from and nurturing our environment.

Nature-centred activities are planned for each term and include music, science, social skills, creative arts, and more. Bush Kids Lane Cove activities are offered to children aged 2 to 5 during the school term and ages 2 to 10 during the NSW school holidays.

Location: Various locations in Lane Cove, see Lane Cove Bush Kids for details

4. Wild Kindy

Wild Kindy
Take a unique bushland adventure with Wild Kindy!

With a mission to provide children with the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature and feel part of their environment, Wild Kindy delivers nature-based experiences for children 2 to 12 years old in Sydney (Chatswood and East Ryde). They help curious kids develop valuable life skills like resilience, confidence, problem-solving, connection, and environmental stewardship through play, adventure, creativity, and exploration.

Wild Kindy encourages children to learn naturally and be wild through a range of inspired programs and workshops. The weekly Wild Play program offers term-based nature play sessions for preschoolers full of action-packed hands-on activities including storytime, games and child-led play, while creative homeschool and school holiday workshops give 5 to 12-year-olds the chance to take a wild adventure of discovery with workshops including Fire and Camp Cooking and Botanical Tie Dye.

Location: Throughout East Ryde and Chatswood, visit Wild Kindy for more information

Bush School Preschool Programs

5. Allambie Bush Kindy

Allambie Bush Kindy
Immerse your little ones in nature at this hands-on and engaging Northern Beaches bush kindy. 

Freedom to explore and play in nature is the mantra at Allambie Bush Kindy on the Northern Beaches. Nestled right in the thick of the bush and near Manly Dam, Allambie Bush Kindy offers the perfect setting for outdoor exploration and learning.

The Bush Kindy program runs as part of the preschool and encourages all kids to get involved in nature play, birdwatching, bushwalking, animal exploration, making mudpies, and more! 

Location: 80 Roosevelt Avenue, Allambie Heights

6. Bush School at John Brotchie Nursery School

Bush School at John Brotchie Nursery School
This Botany-based Bush School will enrich a child's nursery learning in a natural, playful, and engaging way.

The John Brotchie Bush School program was started back in 2014 and mirrors the Scandinavian “Waldkindergarten” approach to learning. “A desire for children to reconnect and appreciate the natural world”, is one of the many visions at John Brotchie Nursery School and is achieved through their Bush School program, which all children partake in for two terms while attending the nursery school.

Rain, hail or shine, Bush School is on at their local parkland setting where kids follow an unhurried curriculum of problem-solving, teamwork, risk-taking, games, and fun all against the natural environment.   

Location: 1361 Botany Rd, Botany

7. Castlecrag Montessori Bush School

Castlecrag Montessori
Exploring the natural wonderland of Castlecrag Montessori Bush School.

With a rich 30-year history, Castlecrag Montessori School (CMS) is perched on the Castlecrag Peninsula with nearby bushland reserves overlooking Middle Harbour, providing the perfect opportunity for children to explore these beautiful parts of Sydney and learn about the world around them.

Their weekly Bush School program (for enrolled students aged 3 to 6 years old) was developed to complement the Montessori philosophy on which CMS is founded and gives children the chance to connect with the surrounding community, gain awareness of Indigenous perspectives and immerse themselves in nature. The personal development benefits are endless, as well as helping children understand and participate in environmental sustainability. 

Location: 184 Edinburgh Rd, Castlecrag

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