Natimuk Bush Kindergarten to start in 2015

FILE PIC

FILE PIC

NATIMUK kindergarten children will venture into the wild next year as part of a new program offered by the Horsham and District Kindergarten Association.

The Natimuk Bush Kindergarten will see children spend one day a fortnight in a bush location.

Association early years manager Shirleen Greening said similar programs had been successful across Victoria.

"It gives children a strong sense of environmental sustainability and connection with the natural environment," she said. 

"It's also been found to improve social connections because they're not distracted by toys."

Mrs Greening said children would be equipped with cameras and sketch pads to document their observations.

"It's excellent for their literacy skills," she said.

Natimuk Bush Kindergarten, along with all kindergarten association programs, faces an uncertain future.

Programs are funded for 15 hours until the end of the year.

But the Federal Government is yet to commit to funding for 2015.

The State Government funds 10 hours of kindergarten, with the Federal Government providing money for the other five.

Mrs Greening expected a decision would be made by the end of October.

"That unknown makes it extremely 

difficult for us to plan and for parents to plan their year," she said. 

She said children in rural and remote areas would be disadvantaged if programs were cut from 15 hours to 10 hours.

"It's very difficult to offer longer 

programs with small numbers of children," she said.

"If this funding is cut, those programs won't be financially viable."

Mrs Greening said a Productivity Commission recommendation to the government to fund the extra hours was encouraging.

"Research shows that longer periods in high-quality early education programs result in much better outcomes for children," she said. 

The Horsham and District Kindergarten Association will offer an after-kindergarten care program in Roberts Avenue, Horsham, from next year.

On Tuesdays and Fridays kindergarten will run between 8.30am and 2.30pm, immediately followed by childcare until 5.30pm.

"It is a way for parents who would 

otherwise need to take their child to another service to be able to have care at that kinder," Mrs Greening said.

Mrs Greening said people could call the association on 5382 7997 for more information about new programs available.

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