During our programs children are encouraged to climb, crawl, clamber, scramble, dig, slither, sing, explore, run, roll, flap, feel, kick, play, patrol, build, imagine, make, ask, seek, chase, look and listen. We try to interfere as little as possible with their play, offering children the opportunity and time to imagine, discover, daydream or master new skills at their own pace.
Read our manifesto for children's play.
Our programs are guided by pedagogical principles that combine the Scandinavian forest school movement, adventure play and child-directed exploration and learning. By creating a gentle, nurturing yet stimulating environment, we support young children in their natural development. Our approach is:
Child led - Children are given the time and freedom to explore at their own pace, following their natural curiosity, instinct and ideas. There is no schedule, and children are unhurried in their explorations - in fact they are encouraged to take time to observe, reflect, make decisions and evaluate risks.
Gentle and respectful - We encourage children to move gently in the natural environment, among their peers, and in their use of tools. We observe changes and transformations in the natural surroundings, learn about nature's rhythms and seasonal changes. Over time, children develop a deep sense of ownership and connection to that space. An increasing sense of security and self-confidence fosters their growing independence.
Supportive of risk-taking and adventure - Kids know how much risk they can handle, and since they are unhurried they have the invaluable opportunity to try and repeat until they can master a task. Adults offer support and supervision but there is minimal interference. This does not mean, of course, that we put our children at risk. We take safety very, very seriously.
At Big Scrub Nature Play, Nature is our curriculum! Each and every interaction that we have with the natural world has the potential to bring to light new discoveries, new connections and new possibilities. We are so lucky to live in this beautiful area, surrounded by nature, with access to rainforest, bush land, beach, ocean and lakes that provide endless opportunities to play and learn. And for this, we feel incredibly grateful and humble.
Childhood should be simple, unhurried and full of wonder.
Children are innately curious and driven to learn.
Children who play in nature will grow up to love and protect it.
Children of all backgrounds, cultures and abilities can learn and thrive in nature.
Children gain pride and independence when trusted and empowered.
This beautiful journey of nature connection started with the birth of my first child in 2014. Back then I was looking for ways to find peace and tranquility, to slow down and truly connect with my baby. It wasn't long until I realised that we were both at our happiest when we were outdoors. We didn't need toys, screens, entertainment.. all we needed was each other's presence and love, while we soaked in the beauty of Nature. This realisation led me to eventually train as a playworker and Forest School leader, and in 2019 I founded Big Scrub Nature Play on those same core values.
My mission is to create a safe and nurturing environment where children can find a deeper connection with themselves and with nature using the universal language of Play.
When I'm not out crafting, playing and jumping in mud you will find me running on trails or writing stories on the sandy shores of Lennox Head, never too far from a good cup of coffee!
Her parenting and educational philosophies have been shaped by over 20 years in early childhood education as well as an advanced degree earned by raising her two wild and wonder-filled boys. Rafaela believes that life is best learned outdoors and nature is the ideal classroom. She connects with children and their grown ups from a place of understanding and love as she guides them through playful discovery and inquiry. Passionate about nature, growing food, foraging, conservation, and regenerative communities. She is multilingual and speaks English, Swedish, Tigrinia & Spanish. She spent most of her life in Sweden where her childhood days were immersed in the Swedish Forest School education movement.
Her visions are creating space for "flowering inwardly". A place to better know our natural selves. A place where we feel deeply connected, free and far from screens and devices.
I am a people lover and kindness enthusiast, with over 10 years' experience working with children in family day care, as a nanny and teaching yoga in primary school settings. I have completed a Bachelor of Social Science minoring in youth work, as well as vinyasa yoga and children's yoga training.
I love to teach the value of kindness, compassion and nature connection alongside yoga. I'm at my happiest when in nature, volunteering and spending time in my community and I thrive off children's creativity and intrinsically positive attitude.
Hi I'm Tyler. For most of my life I have cared for children in one form or another whether it's been babysitting, at a childcare centre, out in the bush, on family camps, or my own siblings. I have a deep passion for caring for little ones and also a deep passion for living with the land in every sense of the word.
I love to grow food and raise animals, make baskets and leather, forage and make medicines. I have lived in a number of land based communities and places, in both Australia and overseas, learning these skills and crafts.
I bring land-base crafts, skills, knowledge and play to our forest school days, in the hope of building reconnection to the land. In the times we are living, I believe a reconnection to the natural world to be vital, especially for our future generations.
Wild hearted and often found in exploring mountains, the bush or the beach, I am in constant awe and appreciation of nature. I live with an ethos of "connect to and care for the world within // connect and care for the world around".
A Yoga teacher and empassioned dancer/mover, I am fascinated by embodied learning practices and the intuitive understandings developed through creative exploration. I am inspired by the inquisitiveness and imagination of children and their learning through play.
I hold a a Bachelor of Science in Physiology, have tutored in university and taught English to both adults and children - though I am a constantly studying cross-cultural perspectives of what it is to be human in this world.
Having lived with the land, amongst families, indigenous communities, and intentional communities throughout South/Central America, Asia, Europe and Australia, within a variety of landscapes and at sea, I have no decisive answer to this question, but a plethora of avenues to explore within it and a whole lot of appreciation to be able to ask it in the first place.
Hi, my name is Dean. I’m a Brizzie boy who has always grown up on the edge of nature, constantly exploring for adventure and solitude. I studied Early Childhood Education over 7 years ago but found that the mainstream childcare industry lacked the authenticity of natural play based learning that originally drew me to the work. I was a full time babysitter for over a year, for 2 troublesome two year old boys (and now feel like nothing else can phase me), and discovered Northey Street Playgroup, where an elderly mentor showed the kids and myself how to forage, play with clay, bamboo, fire, water and other elements of nature. I watched how my two troublesome scallywags were transformed from being forces of chaos and destruction into being curious, peaceful, constructive learners.
I’ve since spent many years traveling the East Coast and Northern Rivers constantly learning through the principles of play based self-directed learning. I have a cert 4 in Permaculture and am wild about foraging and propagating edible plants. You can find me getting busy in my garden for Mullumbimby Mens Shed in the Mullumbimby Community Gardens. I love to move and play and my weeks are filled with playing soccer, capoeira, zen thai shiatsu, yoga, climbing and hiking. I love to get the kids involved in movement and adventure.