Promoting outdoor learning for young children.
The Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Network is a forum for educators to share their experience of providing early childhood education outdoors, learn from each other, and promote outdoor learning for young children.
The ECOLN runs an annual Pedagogy & Practice Conference, Gatherings to visit nature kindergarten sites, and training for services wanting to get a nature program off the ground. We maintain a map of nature kindergarten programs, and a mailing list. We engage in promotion of nature kindergarten and children's access to outdoor play. We aim to connect teachers and services to each other, and learn from each other.
Our professional learning programs include a strong commitment to acknowledging and working with First Nations people.
We are a not-for-profit network of practitioners.
Explore the information on this site for our past and present Conference programs, and our range of activities. To stay in touch, like our Facebook page, and sign up to our mailing list.
Outdoor play is vitally important for learning in early childhood. Educators who work with young children are becoming increasingly aware of the value of outdoor play. New programs are emerging which focus on outdoor play, including play in the bush, at the beach and other natural spaces.
Look here for discussion of pedagogical issues such as the role of risk in learning, sustainability, or learning about literacy, maths and science through outdoor play.
Teaching in new environments means resolving a host of practical problems to ensure that children can be well cared for. They include issues such as setting boundaries, toileting, choosing a site, and transport. Look here for discussion of issues to consider and examples of how other services have resolved them.
An increasing number of children's services are offering special programs with an outdoor learning focus. They vary greatly in where they go and how they are organised. They share a commitment to outdoor learning in nature. Look here for information about some of the programs that operate in different parts of the country.
Find a nature kindergarten program
Are you looking for a nature kindergarten program in your area? Do you want to see where programs are operating? ECOLN have a map that shows children's services that run nature kindergarten as part of a preschool program.
Click on the link to go to the map. Contact services directly for more information. Please note that we cannot vouch for whether all program information is current.
If you have a program you would like to put on the map, please email ECOLN. The same if you want your service taken off.
There are currently 160 services on the map for Victoria, and 15 in others areas.
We are going on information provided. If a program has ceased or is not offered in a particular year, we will not know unless we are notified. Please contact the service directly to find out what is available at the moment.
About our Gatherings
The Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Network holds Gatherings where outdoor programs host visitors to their learning sites.
Gatherings are open to all, but are chiefly directed at practitioners who want to see the site, hear about how the program works in that space, and hear from other practitioners about the practicalities and pedagogy of teaching in these settings.
Gatherings are held on Saturdays so as not to disrupt programs. We understand that people would love to see programs in operation, however it is too intrusive for the children and educators.
Gatherings have been held at a range of services. See here.
For notification of future Gatherings, join the the ECOLN mailing list.
Pedagogy & Practice in Nature Education Conference Series
The Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Network kicked off our annual Pedagogy & Practice Conferences for outdoor learning practitioners in 2016. These are held during Nature Play Week, in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.
Conferences are kept small to promote networking, and affordable for educators who have to pay their own way. From 2020, eligible services can use their SRF funding to attend this Conference. Programs intentionally go beyond the classroom to build the stores of knowledge we have to draw on when working with children.
Click on links below for information about past Conferences.
If you would like to make a contribution to this website, please contact us.