SRF Program

  • Bush/Nature kindergarten (ECO Learning Network)

    VEYLDF Alignment

    Item uses these practice principles: Reflective practice, High expectations for every child, Integrated teaching and learning approaches, Partnerships with professionals.

    Item responds to these sub-outcomes: Children become strong in their social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing.


    The Bush/Nature kindergarten training packages from the ECO Learning Network are designed to assist and guide educators and services to establish place-based outdoor learning programs in Victoria. The training packages are run by teachers who are currently running nature programs in their services. Training options include:

    Option 1: Training package (dates set by the ECO Learning Network)

    This three-session package provides pedagogical knowledge and practical information about setting up a nature program. It includes a site visit to a nature kindergarten. Participants learn how to develop a place-based outdoor learning program, including tools to:

    • create a program in their local environment (such as the bush, the beach or a park)
    • meet regulatory obligations
    • develop relationships with land managers
    • develop the program and documentation
    • foreground First Peoples perspectives in outdoor programs. 

    Option 2: Individual service training package

    This includes all aspects of option 1 but is delivered at a single service and personalised for a team of educators. This training package can be run over two days without site visits, or three days with site visits. Training can be delivered in any region in Victoria.

    Option 3: Community training package

    This training package includes all aspects of option 1 but delivered within your local area with other local services over two consecutive days.

    Option 4: Onsite support
    Professional support to select a nature site and/or work with a teaching team as they establish the nature program.  Site selection and mentoring for program development occurs in the first month. 

    Option 5: Practice improvement for existing nature programs
    This includes working with educators who have already started to develop a nature program and are interested in further support through critical reflective practice. 

    Option 6: Whole-community engagement
    This includes presentations to families, teaching teams, local councils and/or land managers that support the development of nature programs in a local area, outlining the benefits for children and communities. 

    Option 7: ECO Learning Network annual conference
    Participation in the annual conference held in March or April. The conference draws together local and international speakers who support educators' interest in nature programs and embed First Peoples perspectives.


    During COVID-19 restrictions training packages 1-3 can be delivered over two days without the visit to a nature kindergarten.

    Detailed Costs

    Option 1: $600 per person

    Option 2: Total cost $6000

    Option 3: Cost $600 per person, with a minimum attendance requirement of 10 people

    Option 4: Cost $ $150 per hour, plus travel (see travel costs outlined below)

    Option 5: Cost $150 per hour, plus travel (see travel costs outlined below)

    Option 6: Cost $750 per hour, plus travel (see travel costs outlined below)

    Option 7: $250 for two days

    ECOLN charges travel and accommodation costs as follows:

    • Within a 250km radius of Melbourne - 70 cents per km, plus a $40 fee per presenter to cover any additional costs incurred
    • For services outside if the 250km radius there may be additional costs if an extra night's stay is required or if presenters are required to fly to the site
    • Accommodation is charged at $400 for two nights for two presenters

    Services should also consider backfill costs

    Implementation Considerations

    Target population: early childhood education and care services.
    Program/practice descriptions and details: training delivered over three days is broken down as follows: day one is an introduction, day two is a site visit and day three concentrates on planning.

    Staffing: services should consider the cost of backfill when determining the cost of accessing this program.  

    Training requirements: there are no pre-requisites for participants to attend this training.

    Priority Area

    Wellbeing (social and emotional)

    Strength of Evidence

    Level 5 – Foundational research evidence