Children and nature go Hand-In-Hand…naturally. When a tree drops its leaves on a crisp autumn day, a child reaches down their hand to touch it. When a raindrop falls from a wet winter sky, a child stretches out their hand to feel it. And when a butterfly flutters by on a warm spring day, a child chases it with their hand to hold it. Children and nature go Hand-In-Hand, and when a child plays, learns and connects with nature, they do so by reaching out their hand and touching it!
This is how children learn best and our nature education programs are designed to facilitate a child’s learning experience in the most natural way possible…through nature and play-based education…another relationship that goes Hand-In-Hand.
Children are eager to explore, interact and learn from the world they experience everyday. The best way to facilitate that learning process, and to guarantee a nurturing and enriching educational experience, is to ensure that each child feels safe and comfortable within their learning environment. Our Nature Educators carry out this high standard of education, building strong, secure relationships of trust and allowing a child’s curiosity and inquisitiveness to lead them through a natural process that will provide them with a strong foundation for learning while having fun…once again, a relationship that goes Hand-In-Hand!
A strong foundation for education begins with connections…with each other and with our environment. Our program builds these connections – connections such as: children and nature, nature and play, learning and having fun. Your children will develop those connections by exploring Comox Valley and Campbell River’s beautiful nature parks with our experienced educators leading the way…Hand-In-Hand.
Forest and Nature School Model: Child-Led
We pull from many schools of thoughts and philosophies, such as Waldorf Education, Montessori Education, the Reggio Emilia Approach, 8 Shields and Coyote Mentoring. But most of all, we follow the Forest and Nature School Model, which consists of 2 essential components: (1) Child-Led and (2) Nature-Based.
Child-Led Learning is the process in which children lead their own experiences. Their play is guided by their own interests, passions, motivations, beliefs, safety and comfort, and their learning is enriched when our educators take that lead and incorporate it into our lessons. The children are at the wheel of our program’s ship and together our forest friends collectively and communally steer the experiences of our program in the direction that they choose. Our Nature Educator’s “invisible” tool pouch is always stuffed with nature-based songs, stories, games, activities and crafts and whenever possible we shift our own agenda for the interests of the children. For example, if our Nature Educators are leading a nature explore to go see the salmon spawn in the fall and on the way our forest friends get super excited about a particular banana slug making its way across the trail, then we’ll stop and observe the banana slug until we’re all ready to carry on. While our forest friends are connecting to the banana slug, our Nature Educators are taking mental notes about the group’s interests and experiences and then incorporating them into the program. We’ll take this fascination of banana slugs and sing songs about banana slugs, read stories about banana slugs, include banana slug activities…until the raven flies by and that captures the children’s interest…and we’ll then refocus our explorations once again and incorporate the raven into our program! This approach, combined with the dynamic ever-changing environments we play and learn in, the experiences of our forest friends are constantly changing and moving from day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, season-to-season and school year-to-school year…and it’s within this change where tremendous growth and development occurs within each and every one of our forest friends!
School Forest and Nature Model: Nature-Based Learning
Nature-Based Learning means that all of our programs take place outside in a natural environment. In all of our programs, our forest friends are all dropped off outside, they are picked up outside and everything in between happens outside. Sometimes also referred to as Place-Based Learning, visiting sites with regularity throughout seasonal changes instills a deep connection of the land in the children, as well as an understanding of how the cyclical nature of the year works. With that said, when Environment Canada issues a Wind Warning, we relocate our program to a safe space; either an open space where there isn’t the risk of falling limbs, or if needed a nearby indoor space. In addition to being outside, nature-based learning also means that everything we do incorporates nature. Every song we song, every story we read, every craft we create and every moment we celebrate with each other, we do so with nature in mind…GO NATURE!!!