TAFE NSW graduate and now teacher Sofia Machado was inspired by the wild, freedom and risk when she conceived the idea of Nature Explorers, a nature-based sustainability educational program.
The school is a place where children run around freely, climbing trees while words of encouragement are called out by teachers like “I know you can do it”, instead of words of warning like “be careful”.
What started with a pilot of eight families three years ago has now grown into a record of 124 families with sessions running every day.
Ms Machado graduated with a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care in 2011 and enjoyed studying at TAFE NSW Lismore so much she decided to return as a part-time teacher to share her knowledge.
“My teachers had real life examples and understood the industry so they had a terrific currency of knowledge to offer us as students. I was able to experience a hands-on approach to the industry that I was learning, that shaped where my career headed and the ideas I had,” Ms Machado said.
Nature Explorers develops programs from birth to children aged up to 12 years as well as families. The school operates at a range of local sites including bushland, sand dunes and local parks. The children are taught how to take care of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices. For a child everything is new and Nature Explorers believes in encouraging children’s independence and natural curiosity.
The school aims to give kids the opportunity to get back into nature and reconnect with independent learning by discovering their own boundaries. The children are outside all the time, in all weather conditions and welcome the sight of rain.
According to safety.gov, 81% of parents with pre-schoolers say their children use the internet. Of these parents, 94% report their child was already using the internet by the age of four. Fifty-two per cent of parents with kids believe their children spend too much time online.
In a world where children spending too much time online is a real concern, Ms Marchado has taken a large burden of this off the parent and into the outdoors.
“That is what inspired me to start teaching at TAFE NSW once I had gained some of my own experience, changing the way children are spending their time. It’s important to pass that knowledge on,” she said.
The Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care can also be studied online, when and where it suits students, via TAFE Digital.
For more detail on TAFE NSW courses, face-to-face or online, visit www.tafensw.com.au or call 131 601.
Media contact: Sarah Lievore, TAFE NSW Media Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org