Connecting to Country while Walking Learning

Closing the Gap with Indi Kindi

Whether it’s fishing on the banks of the MacArthur River, exploring the creek at Karlu Karlu, or turtle hunting in the bush, Indi Kindi classrooms have no walls.

Indi Kindi’s traditional Aboriginal teaching methodology is informed by 65,000 years of culture – we are emulating how Dreaming has always been taught. As Borroloola’s Law women say, you can’t talk Dreaming, you have to walk it, and this is at the heart of what we do.

The curriculum is specifically designed for young Aboriginal learners in that it is taught outside and on Country using Indi Kindi’s innovative and multi-sensory ‘Walking Learning’ model.

Turtle hunting in Borroloola, NT

The Walking Learning model builds on the measurable link between movement and cognitive function to boost positive behaviour, engagement and performance. It encourages creativity, resourcefulness, and curiosity—all skills learned through the dynamic interaction of children with each other and connection to the world around them.

Outdoor learning is particularly important for Aboriginal children, many of whom experience difficulties with auditory processing through hearing loss. In a traditional classroom where sound bounces off the wall it can be disorientating, and affect the cooperation and attention spans of very young Aboriginal children.

Walking Learning examples:

  • Sound walk – describe/ identify sounds to develop skills in listening
  • Scavenger hunt walk – find certain items following instructions
  • Obstacle walk – navigate obstacles developing awareness of positional language
  • Little creatures walk – find and observe little creatures on the walk
  • Pattern walk – follow a line in the sand/ chalk line for balance and coordination
  • Nature patterns walk – find textures and make rubbing patterns
  • Number / shape walk – identify numbers/ shape on the ground
  • Treasure walk – collect items for imaginative play
  • Photo walk – take photos from child’s perspective
  • I spy walk – describing and observing items of interest in the environment
Bush berry gathering in Borroloola, NT

Benefits of Walking Learning:

  • Increases physical activity opportunities
  • Engages different learning styles
  • Increases participation
  • Develops health awareness and healthy habits
  • Improves concentration and attention
  • Increase child’s enjoyment of activities and motivation to learn

Walking Learning addresses all developmental areas:

  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Language and literacy
  • Mathematical development
  • Knowledge and understanding of the world
  • Creative development
  • Physical development

National and international research shows interacting with the environment provides optimum conditions for visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning for the very young. The research strongly endorses walking learning delivered outdoors improves behaviour and engagement for learning rather than within a classroom environment in purpose built rooms.

For instance, findings from the “Outdoor learning and play at schools around the world” report, (Cath Prisk and Dr Harry Cusworth, Nov 2018, p11) explain “the benefits of outdoor learning and play last beyond early education. Preschool children who enjoy large amounts of outdoor time have been shown to consistently score better on standardised tests for executive function, attention and short-term memory than children attending preschools that have fewer outdoor hours in the school day. Those children who enjoy more outdoor time during preschool continue to score better on standardised testing once they have moved into primary education“.

Further, “Time spent outdoors boosts mental health. Research from around the world points to the ability of nature to restore our sense of wellbeing. Children feel better and perform better after they have been outdoors. Getting outdoors helps children feel calmer, helps process their day and builds the holy grail of capabilities: resilience. Above all else, being outdoors simply makes us feel alive, feel joy; and feeling joy on a regular basis is an essential foundation for a good childhood and healthy later life.”

Indi Kindi Mungkarta NT
Exploring Kurlu Karlu, NT

Indi Kindi’s Walking Learning methodology aims to:

  • Provide a wide range of contrasting sensory experiences for children to enrich their learning that cannot be experienced from sensory experiences inside.
  • Provide a context in which children learn from the transformations that continually occur outside throughout the day and the seasons.
  • Provide opportunities to work on a larger scale, to move faster, climb higher, make more noise, see further and go further when they are outside.
  • Enable children to learn from and about the natural world around them and to understand their place in the built and natural environment and their impact on it.
  • Be connected to their country and learn traditions unique to their culture from the broader community.
  • Provide daily access to outdoor learning all year round.
  • Provide opportunities and experiences that will promote characteristics of active learning, to create and think critically, predict, evaluate and observe carefully.
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