Learn to create wild experiences for kids in your local ‘outback’.

Our 6 week online training will provide you with the confidence to share your local wild places with young children

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, early childhood educator, centre director, family daycare provider or playgroup facilitator – this course will enable you to mentor young children to feel at home in the natural environment. But just as importantly, you also get to learn about and embrace your own unique local landscape – both inner and outer! – in order to share this love of place with children, your community, and beyond.

We know that there are rising levels of anxiety, stress, depression, ADHD, and poor physical strength in young children.* We also know that time in nature is an excellent antidote.**

Are you ready to be a part of the nature play movement?

Benefits of Nature Play

ENHANCED MINDFULNESS

with an increase in focus & decrease in ADHD symptoms

INCREASED CONFIDENCE

through problem solving skills, imaginative play and creativity.

GREATER PHYSICAL STRENGTH

including greater core strength, enhanced balance and increased fine motor skills.

STRONGER EMOTIONAL FOUNDATIONS

with greater impulse control & sensory regulation

IMPROVED RESILIENCE

through awareness of risk, ability to persevere, overcome challenges and discomfort.

*Climbing Trees: Getting Aussie Kids Back Outdoors –  Planet Ark – https://bit.ly/2yC1qIT

** From muddy hands and dirty faces… to higher grades and happy places. Outdoor learning and play at schools around the world. Cath Prisk and Dr Harry Cusworth – http://bit.ly/2ZDausW

Nature Play Mentor Training

This online training provides six weeks of interactive experiential learning and guided reflection to give you the skills necessary to mentor young children in the natural environment. The journey begins with a personal “re-wilding” in Weeks One and Two – to help you build your confidence and connection with both your inner and your outer local landscapes. Weeks Three and Four guide you to move out into your local terrain to learn its special secrets. Weeks Five and Six bring it all together and also offer more sector specific applications of nature play.

Throughout the six weeks, you have the opportunity to not only rebuild your sense of awe and wonder for the natural world around you, but to learn specific skills that will help you share this love with young children.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

You’ll understand the benefits of teaching and learning in nature, the risks and hazards you’re likely to face and how to communicate these to inspire families, co-workers and managers to join the nature play movement and get kids outside more!

Other skills include:

  • Nature journalling
  • Mindfulness in nature
  • Theoretical frameworks underpinning Nature Play
  • Program design and planning
  • Identifying play urges in young children
  • Reading landscapes & wild spaces
  • How to set up a base camp
  • Conducting a Risk Assessment
  • Appropriate tool use for young children
  • Introduction to bird language
  • Introduction to animal tracking

Course Overview

Week One: Wilding the Self - We are Nature

  • Remembering that we are nature
  • Mindfulness in nature
  • Nature journalling

Week Two: Wilding the Self - Mentoring in Nature

  • Thinking about traditional ways of knowing
  • Learning about different nature mentoring theories
  • Remembering the magic of songs, myths, and stories

Week Three: Engaging Through Nature - Elements of Nature

  • Engaging in the natural elements – fire, water, air, earth
  • Reading landscapes and wild spaces
  • Music as a mentoring tool

Week Four: Engaging Through Nature - Environmental Knowledge

  • Bird language
  • Core routines/Animal forms
  • Predator Tracking
  • Sit spots in your local area

Week Five: Facilitating Nature Play - Planning and Practices

  • How to become a Nature Play advocate
  • Designing a base camp/nature site
  • The 5 guiding principles of a safe Nature Play site

Week Six: Facilitating Nature Play - Implementing and Reflecting

  • Logistics, resources, and gear
  • Planning or running a trial nature play session with a small group of children
  • Reflecting and synthesising

PAY WHAT YOU CAN

We are now offering this program on a by-donation basis.

The RRP is $300 which helps to pay for our facilitators, the course development, admin and set up costs, however if you cannot pay this then simply pay what you can.


Weekly Time Commitment:

2hrs per week – 1hr to engage in readings and activities plus 1hr online Zoom webinar (weekday evening, times tbc)

Enrichment Options:

Additional 4hrs of content – hyperlinks and video viewing, sit spots and journaling.


Next course starts 22nd October and runs for 6 weeks.

What past particpants say

“This course is for anyone who loves the outdoors and exploring their own relationships with the ‘natural’ world. It is also for anyone dismayed at the rapid changes happening to the beloved ecosystems around them and wondering how they can simultaneously deepen their understanding of what we call ‘Nature’ and help guide children to find their own relationship with it.”

“The Nature Academy training has been an amazing tool to increase my level of awareness and preparation to be a nature mentor. The structure of the course is very flexible and reasonable. The weekly Zoom sessions with all the students and the coordinators were immensely valuable. Thanks so much for a great experience of training and personal growth!”

“In these times of rapid ecological change, when so many of us are feeling distressed and unsure about what we can do- this course offers a solution that is both philosophical and highly practical- reconnecting ourselves and our children with the natural world.”

Meet The Team

Erin Chapman

Erin is an accredited early childhood teacher and plays, teaches, mentors and guides children in nature daily. She lives the life of a nature mentor, learning from the children and landscapes to develop spaces that foster growth and development for all. Erin has been an active nature playworker for over two years, spending an entire year in the bush with children of all ages. Erin and her team mentored children at beach, river and bush locations weekly in all weather! Currently the Director of Kalang Preschool Erin brings her knowledge of play and early nature connection to Nature Academy.

Lisa Siegel

Lisa is a founding member of the Centre for Ecological Learning (CEL) and a skilled environmental educator with over 20 years experience in developing and facilitating educational experiences for children, young people, and adults. Besides working with CEL, Lisa works as an Associate Lecturer in the School of Education at Southern Cross University, and is currently undertaking PhD research in environmental education. In her spare time she likes to hang out with her chickens.

Tanya Fox

Tanya Fox is a group facilitator, counsellor, bodywork practitioner and nature lover. She has facilitated groups in a diverse range of disciplines, including deep ecology, creative expression, trauma work, grief and loss, language training and bodywork. Currently, she works with Centre for Ecological Learning facilitating Despair and Empowerment workshops, Feel The Magic charity organisation leading young people through grief support and education, and at Elemental Nature Connection Retreats facilitating interpersonal and nature connection activities.

Benn Wolhuter

Benn Wolhuter has worked in ecological education for over 15 years. He has a Bachelor of Education from Southern Cross University and a Bachelor of Environmental Science from Wollongong University. Benn has experience in youth & community work, school gardens, mentoring and personal development. He takes this practical, socio-ecological approach into his current teaching roles as a science teacher (at Coffs Coast Alesco School) and gardening teacher (at Chrysalis Steiner School).

Nature Academy is a project of the Centre for Ecological Learning (CEL). CEL’s mission is to foster ecological wellbeing for ourselves and the planet. Since 2007, CEL projects have been supporting people of all ages to experience earth-based, immersive, educational experiences that deepen our relationship with ourselves, our communities,  and the natural world.