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STEM Teaching and Learning in Bush Kinders
journal contributionposted on 2022-09-29, 22:31 authored by Christopher Andrew Speldewinde
For over 50 years, the forest school approach to nature learning has gathered momentum in the UK and across parts of Europe including Scandinavia (Knight, 2016). In other contexts such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia, nature-based early childhood education and care settings, influenced by European forest school approaches, have begun to gain popularity. Opportunities for STEM education occur in nature-based settings, such as forest schools and nature kindergartens, yet this area has only garnered limited research attention to date. One such example of a nature kindergarten which emerged in the 2010s is Australian ‘bush kinder’ where 4- to 5-year-old preschool children experience and learn from nature. This paper arrives at an innovative conceptualisation of STEM teaching and learning in bush kinders. Through analysing research in early years STEM education, teacher pedagogy and early childhood learning, I propose a teaching and learning process that is replicable for similar nature-based early childhood education and care settings. Drawing on vignettes from ethnographic fieldwork data, the conceptualisation of an integrated approach to STEM teaching in bush kinders is illustrated. To frame the approach to STEM teaching, this analysis builds on the notions that STEM teaching and learning can take the form of a five-phased cyclical process. It is this process that contributes to the conceptualisation of STEM teaching and learning in early childhood education.