Our Philosophy & Approach
We believe that it is the right of all children to a consistent and meaningful experience of nature. To this end, our program is facilitated in such a way as to promote the following truths:
1) Children are inherently closer to the source, and as such, they stand with open hearts and hands, ready to receive the gifts nature offers us. These gifts include a calm mind, a brave heart, a heightened awareness of the beauty in the world, a secure sense of self, a spirit of collaboration, a bright & untethered creativity and a kind devotion to all living beings.
2) One of the gifts of childhood is the right to embrace the richness of play, without needing to label the play as purposeful so that we adults can make sense of it, or justify the children’s time spent playing. Play is the way that children make sense of the world, and play in nature is always rich with meaning and allows our children to build a map to assist them in navigating relationships, their sense of self and their understanding of the world and their place in it.
3) A curriculum which emerges from the interests of the children holds more potential for learning than one which is imposed by us as teachers. Children are naturally eager to learn everything they can about the world, and our role in that learning is to be excellent observers of the children’s play, so we may offer small provocations and scaffold them as they build upon their thinking. It is widely known in the world of early childhood education that children who attend outdoor preschools are just as prepared for the world of sit-down academics at kindergarten or first grade, if not more so, than their peers in indoor preschools.
4) Early childhood is the time for social and emotional exploration and integration, and we prioritize this key aspect of childhood development. To this end, we support the children in navigating the emotions which emerge when we spend time in relationship with others. We follow the tenets of a restorative justice model of conflict resolution, which creates space for everyone to share their experience without needing the existence of a victim or perpetrator. We know children to be inherently kind and good, and as teachers we help them translate their feelings, needs and requests so others can hear them clearly.
5) Body awareness, feeling one’s physical being in space, and moving bravely through the world are also important aspects of early childhood. We find nature to be the best possible teacher of appropriate risk-taking, and encourage our children to experiment with running, jumping, climbing, swinging, sledding, rolling, carrying and generally feeling how capable our bodies are. This experimentation also contributes greatly to the sense of inner calm and control which “forest” children seem to regularly display, including a distinct lack of ADHD, post-preschool.
6) We live in a fast-paced world, with access to media and technology at every turn, and recognize that the adults of our future are being asked to operate in a vastly different world than the one our not-so-distant relatives occupied. We know that we need our children to enter their adult lives with open hearts, keenly creative minds, a reverence for the earth and each other, resiliency and resourcefulness. We believe time spent in nature, at every age, but especially during the formative years of early childhood, is time spent building the very skills and character traits we will need the next generation to possess. This time in nature is an antidote to our fast, overwhelming world, but is also an olive branch—extended to the future of our planet and our human race.