New bush kindy wants to take learning back to nature
A LONG-HELD dream to establish a bush kindergarten on a working farm is all but realised for Sharon Kneen.
Mayfield Nature Kindergarten will officially open on Monday after a long journey to get it ready to welcome its first cohort of kids.
The 62ha property is located in Wanora, between Ipswich and Fernvale, on the Brisbane River.
She had hoped to open up earlier in the year but COVID-19 delayed those plans.
Mrs Kneen said she had always dreamt of having a nature kindy and her late husband Scott wanted a farm to call his own.
He passed away last year.
In 2018, the 100-year-old cottage they were converting into a childcare centre was struck by lightning and burnt to the ground.
"It's been a very long time coming," she said.
"It's super, super exciting though.
"Knowing we're on the drink of it becoming a reality, it's very special. I'm very excited."
The kindy will have a capacity of 27 children and they will be under the guidance of a director, two teachers and two assistants.
There is still room for enrolments.
"We're hoping to start nice and slowly," she said.
"We have families who are starting with us on Monday. We're not wanting to open full and we're not."
The property, which was purchased five years ago, is home to cattle, horses, chickens and other wildlife and Mrs Kneen said the kindy was about taking things back to the "most basic and primal learning."
"Every day the children will have the opportunity to be either inside in the cottage, outside in the yard outside the cottage or they'll also have the opportunity to venture into the beyond taking journeys through the property," she said.
"There's tracks down to the river and tracks to dams. There's big ant hills and there's birds that nest everywhere and cows and horses and all sorts of things that children can do in the wild.
"It's really about learning with nature and through nature. This will be available for children every day when they come here.
"We have services who come out to this property once a week so children get to do that. But for the children here it will be part of their everyday ritual.
"I'm not aware if there are any other actual nature immersion kindys around."
Mrs Kneen owns and operates three other centres in Karana Downs, Springfield and Capalaba under the Eskay Kids banner.
Call 5467 0110 for more information.
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.