What began as a recited drone of repetition has become a meaningful moment of connection to the land of the Gunnai Kurnai people for the children of our preschool.
Being in bush kinder weekly gave us an opportunity to add real meaning to our Acknowledgment of Country.
We begin by joining in a circle in the bush and we sit, kneel or squat on the ground. We expand our awareness to our environment and comment on the things we notice. Sunlight shining off the wet leaves like gems, frogs croaking, bird calls, the smell of smoke, our breath in the morning air. This may prompt conversation and we share information. I then draw our focus back to the group and take the opportunity to make a cultural connection to our observations. Often I talk about our children’s love of bush kinder. If they learn to love the land while they are young and have small voices, when they are grown and have big voices they will be able care for the land and share their love of the land with other children, linking the themes of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day and NAIDOC Week. As I’m talking, I am intentionally touching the ground, wiping the leaves away, fiddling with a tiny gum nut or rubbing the dirt between my fingers, the children doing the same as they listen.
I then invite the children to touch the ground and feel the dirt of the Gunnai Kurnai people as we say together the words of our acknowledgment with understanding and respect.
Although it only takes a few minutes it feels really special to be able make a genuine connection between the land of the Gunnai Kurnai people and our bush kinder experiences, to have an impact on these young developing minds and to foster their connection to country for the benefit of our future.