Kinder teacher receives national accolade

LANSDOWNE Crescent Primary School kinder teacher Narelle Henderson is leading the charge in play-based learning after receiving a national award at the ASG National Excellence in Teaching Awards (NEiTA).

Selected from more than 1,100 nominations, Ms Henderson joined the 11 national award recipients – including two other Tasmanians – at a special awards ceremony in Melbourne in March.

Nominated by a parent, she received the Leadership and Development Award for her extensive outdoor play-based education program, ‘Bush Kinder’.

Ms Henderson said the program involved students setting up “camp” at Mt Stuart’s Knocklofty Reserve, encouraging them to investigate their surroundings and play imaginatively.

“This is also a community activity with parents and friends volunteering to share their talents as the students look to nature to build shelters and cubbies, make mandalas, search for insects, listen to birds and balance on logs and swings,” she said.

“There are countless benefits to play-based learning and research has shown that engaging with nature encourages children to try new things, as well as improve their social and teamwork skills through problem-solving.”

ASG NEiTA chairman Allen Blewitt said Ms Henderson’s love for nature and strategy for play-based learning was having a positive impact.

“A parent affirmed that Ms Henderson’s positive attitude helps encourage the children to see being rugged up and outside in the bush on a 10-degree Hobart day as part of a wonderful adventure,” he said.

Ms Henderson said she was “stunned and overwhelmed” when she received the news of her nomination.

“Like every job, you just go about you day-to-day activities and try and do the best you possibly can,” she said.

“Lucky for me, I have a great team surrounding me here at Lansdowne Crescent and we all love what we do, which comes through in our teaching.”

Other Tasmanian award recipients were Drew Roberts from Emmanuel Christian School and Carolyn Coote from Blackmans Bay Primary School.

Mr Blewitt congratulated Ms Henderson and the other recipients on their achievements.

“It is an absolute pleasure to have them as our ASG NEiTA ambassadors, as they represent the true epitome of dedicated teachers who genuinely care about the educational success and wellbeing of their students,” he said.

Ms Henderson said she would use her award to expand Bush Kinder both interstate and overseas.

Caption: ASG National Excellence in Teaching Award winner Narelle Henderson with Lansdowne Crescent Primary School prep students, back row, from left, Bella Jones, Archie Lewis, middle row, from left, Lockie Muskett, Tom Hynes, Jack Cox, Eliza Madden and, front row, Elka Kuylaars.

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