Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning and how to learn ~ Loris Malaguzzi
- In children and in their capacity as competent and powerful thinkers, who are interested in the natural world with many ideas to offer.
- In authentic nature experiences being placed at the forefront of a child's preschool education.
- In children having rights to: learn outdoors, feel safe, take reasonable risks to find out the answers to their questions, use their senses, problem solve with their peers, form social friendships, be a contributor to citizen science and gain a better understanding of the world around them.
- In Families as partners in this early educational period of young children's lives.
- In experiencing diverse habitats around Cobb County forming relationships with the land, flora, fauna, each other and our community.
Education is a system of relationships
~ Loris Malaguzzi
Our Philosophy and Pedagogy
Our Pedagogical approach is a multi-faceted one that has been inspired by a variety of philosophers, educational theorists, researchers, naturalists, environmentalists, artists and educators regarding how children develop or learn best.
Our Preschool program is influenced by both the original German model of Forest Kindergarten as well as the Italian Reggio Emilia Approach. By offering children large amounts of uninterrupted time to play and explore while discovering, problem solving, develop social skills and develop a sense of self confidence in our special natural places, we hope to give back to childhood in a way that children these days are lacking. When children have time to play for longer periods, this is when they really begin to focus and have the deeper play experiences that are substantially more complex, creative and meaningful.
We offer a unique preschool experience within our home base as well as our Cobb passive parks. We thoughtfully connect our work outdoors to our work indoors by preserving our work through various styles of documentation that we share with families. The families have these indoor spaces to drop off, and reconnect each day before we transition to the outdoor world.
We are committed to these principles:
- Very small class size
- Low ratios 1 - 2 : 6
- Nature immersion in a variety of weather
- Authentic curriculum development based upon interests of children
- Emphasis on empowering children through positive reinforcement
- Focus on play: Unstructured open-ended play
- Place based curriculum focused on our natural community
- Environmental stewardship
- Respect for all living things
As we project our curricular path over the course of the year, threads of study develop where children have opportunities to explore their interests while developing in all domains of development. Many of our discoveries and experiences are also connected to early S.T.E.A.M (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) learning experiences.
The observations of children are always the best determining factor in our curriculum development. Our role as Educators is to support children as they play, explore and inquire about the world. As we guide them safely through nature to explore their questions in an environment that is flexible for diverse learning styles we will also support their interests by listening to their questions, and taking time to discuss or experiment among peers in a style where we socially construct new understandings of the world. Many of the topics of our study start out as a simple question and may progress into a short term or long term study depending on the life of the interest. Within each of these experiences, the children develop a relationship with the natural world and each other, creating an intersubjectivity unique to our Nature Preschool community.
The nuances of the natural world afford endless topics of studies for young children if given the time to revisit a special place and develop a relationship through nature immersion and personal experiences. Research strongly suggests that children learn best in the outdoors when they are surrounded by sunlight and fresh air. In addition, the outdoors affords the room to move in ways that develop core strength, balance, coordination and physical endurance. When given time to take reasonable risks, children also develop resilience, confidence, self esteem, collaboration and problem solving skills. Over time children will deepen their senses and habits of mind to encounter learning with joy, creativity, critical thinking skills, personal awareness and healthier relationships. By choosing the outdoors as our setting for learning, we are respecting the innate curiosities and sense of natural wonder in children that lends to the organic learning process where basic environmental and natural science studies occur.
There are always many great questions and ideas brought to us by the children and families. With flexible curricular planning, we are engaged in taking side roads along our journey of discovering, learning and finding joy with the children in our natural world!