Our philosophy

In our increasingly structured world we believe that children are missing out on unstructured self-directed play which allows them to build emotional resilience and social skills.  We provide an environment of trust and self-reliance where children are encouraged to be curious and solve their challenges with minimal adult interference. 

Mental health

Children work out their feelings and their challenges though play. Without this outlet which is difficult to provide in the results based education system, anxiety becomes more prevalent.


The ability to experience disappointment and yet rebound and continue on is a challenging lesson to learn. So often we want to protect our children from anything negative.


Spending the whole day outside no matter the weather, fosters an appreciation for our green spaces as well as teaching our children that one does not need sunshine to play outside.

Physical activity

Climbing trees, playing games being in nature and its varied surfaces premotes the physical development of our bodies. It has been shown that physical activity is correlated with academic performance.

Critical thinking

When we step in to 'help' our children solve their problems, we are denying them a chance to learn and develop their critical thinking skills

A day at NKC

Our day starts at 9am and as the children filter in they immediately are engaged in play. After everyone has arrived we may have our morning meeting, but frequently if the children are engaged and harmonious our ‘morning’ meetings won’t happen until lunchtime or even afternoon. Play is respected and will not be interrupted needlessly.

Although the children are encouraged to eat and drink when they feel the need, we pull everyone in at lunchtime to eat together. It is very easy to get so engaged in their play that they forget to eat. As hungry tummys often lead to grumpy children, we endeavor to remind them of their body’s needs.

Sometime between 2 and 230pm clean up is called and all children help in the responsibility of collecting ropes, tarps and other equipment. Bags are packed and afternoon tea is consumed while we review the day and what we’d like to do in the future.

Outside of this structure, everyday, every play, every adventure is different. 

Our Teachers

Jo Luff

Jo, as anyone who has had a child pass through Nature Kindy can attest, is an amazing educator whose philosophy of learning through free play and innate understanding of what makes kids tick has made an indelible impression on many childen's lives. She is an NZ registered teacher with a passion for the outdoors and sharing it with children.

Lexi Longman

Lexi, many may know from her great work as a supervisor for Conscious Kids as well as a leader for Scouts where she has a fantastic rapport with the kids and enjoys sharing the outdoors with them She is a trained health care professional and also employed as a disability care worker with a strong focus on getting families out in the community.

Our executive commitee

Arnna Alexander

What started out as a gut feeling has developed through conversations and observation into more of an understanding of 'why' natural environments are so beneficial for kids. I was born in NZ and grew up in Sweden. I started school at 7 with the same teacher in all subjects for 6 years. Much of the Swedish school was outside with the saying 'there's no bad weather only bad clothes'. It was ingrained in us and free play 'just was' ... a lot. We were left to ourselves for hours roaming the large forests, building huts, crashing bikes, scaling rocks, only coming in for food and then out again. That's just how life was.
The words unobstructed free play, self-awareness, learning how to learn (not what to learn) and emotional resilience have only been words to me until they translated back to watching Oliver growing up. So much had changed in the environment when he was born but I didn't really click until I watched him start to flourish back in NZ at Nature Kindy. This made me motivated to be part of NKC and look to extend this experience past 5.

Kerryn Green

I have had the great pleasure of working with Play and Learn Nature Kindergarten and Conscious Kids for the past 2 years and have watched lots of children benefit from the free play environments.
My older two children - Chloe and Connor - were at the CK One DayPro gram last year every Friday with me, and my youngest - Ethan was almost ready to leave Nature Kindy and start at Torbay school.
I'm really impressed with the play based learning that is happening in a lot of schools at the moment, and it seems like the research is getting out there for parents and teachers about how important play based learning is for children to develop lifelong learning skills.
I am Primary and Early Childhood trained and registered in NZ, but at a Nathan Wallis talk a few years ago I was again really challenged to think about the priorities I want for my own children. I've always wanted them to be able to communicate clearly with their peers, to be able to problem solve, negotiate effectively, cope with boredom, hard things, hard people and loneliness, to learn to think things through/manage their own behaviour and all those other amazing skills our children need. I had always known that children learn these best through free play and when they are engaged in the process, but I hadn't before thought about options for how to do this once my children had started school!

Laura McLeod

My kids have participated in the fantastic Conscious Kids holiday programmes since they started, but it was only when I volunteered as a parent in 2016 that I was introduced to the Play and Learn philosophy when I had the chance to train with Harriet Thomson and work with Jo Luff.
It blew me away to see how Jo worked with the kids, guiding them to be responsible for themselves and teaching them to be emotionally aware.
A few years later the CK one day programme had started and my youngest, Linus, was struggling in school. Emotional outbursts, lashing out and generally being miserable. It was Jo who suggested he join CK once a week outdoors in unstructured free play. The result was amazing. He was calmer, could thrive in the classroom and through the small group sizes and the guidance of Kerryn and Olivia began to develop friendships and management of his emotions.

About us

Nature Kids Co-op
PO Box 203002
Waiau Pa
Auckland, 2122
New Zealand

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