Nature-based Early Learning
“Collecting the Child”
…you cannot influence a child’s mind
until you have their heart… Dr.
Our philosophy is based on Learning Through
The program is based on the Reggio Emilia model. The concept
advocates the ideal of a community school.
Parents are partners in the education and care of their children.
The supporting theory and philosophy for this model is documented in Vygotsky’s
Social Learning Theory and his work in Mental Functioning.
A sense of community will be enhanced with the idea that we appreciate
and enjoy the simple things in life and not buy into commercialism. This is
modeled by practicing recycling, developing a garden with compost, and allowing
children to develop at their own pace with learning materials based on their interests.
As a community, we share our interests, resources and knowledge to
maintain our strong community in supporting children and their families.
Every time a child says “wow”, we know synaptic
development has taken place within the brain. The ideal environment promotes
cognitive provocation and offers scaffolding in this transition of cognitive
growth. This is equally applicable to psychosocial and biosocial development.
Divergent thinking is one of the many positive
outcomes. Divergent thinking skills are mastered by facilitating emergent
learning through active hands on “natural” discovery, exploration and
Play.- Nature-based Early Learning Environment
When children are engaged in play, they are
exploring and making sense of their world; therefore, as educators we consider
and respect every child’s individual family and home environment reality. Program modification is imperative to daily
schedules and routines in order to meet the needs of every child and their
A nature-based early learning environment is
inclusive, tangible, and accessible to all children. It fosters a love and
internal appreciation for nature and the outdoor environment. Nature excites
children with its endless hands-on experiences, and it ignites their natural
curiosity, allowing for exploration through all their sensory receptors. This
contributes to an understanding of themselves and others as they learn to
respect and care for all living things.
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit
Disorder (2005) has coined the term “nature-deficit disorder,” not to be
used as a clinical diagnosis for a neurological condition, but to describe the
consequences of children’s diminishing interactions and connections with
The environment is designed to follow the
children’s interests and is developed using as many natural materials as
possible. With this learning ideal we are interacting with nature and
contributing to the care of our earth. Closer to home, we are caring for our
home and school. An early understanding of our ecosystems will have a lifelong
effect on children who grow up and eventually contribute toward the preservation
of our planet.
Ecology as an early learning focus offers
endless opportunities to explore and learn from what is close to home. The
immediate environment is what children know and what makes sense to them in
their world. A nature-based early
learning environment will help children internalize a respect for nature. When
we respect something, we want to absorb from it, thereby becoming a part of it.
This in turn gives us a sense of belonging.
Practicing and maintaining emergent early learning is essential for delivering the diverse
learning environments and experiences children require. Implementing emergent early learning provides the
opportunity for children to offer their ideas and interests and thus leads to a
sense of value and belonging.
We establish a connection with the early
learning environment and the children’s daily life experiences: what they do
and how they do it. Each child has a unique life story, and assessing what is
meaningful and relevant to each individually will determine the direction and
content of curriculum planning.
Pedagogical Narrations –Making Learning Visible
Pedagogical Narrations are created by first interacting with the
children, observing and noting what they are interested in. We then build upon
their ideas by encouraging exploration, offering materials to enhance their
interest and provide information to build their knowledge. The narrations are
posted for parents.
“An intelligence is the ability
to solve problems, or to create products,
that are valued within one or more cultural settings.”
Psychologist Howard Gardner wrote Frames of
Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence (1983) identifying seven
intelligences. In 1999 he added two more intelligences in his book Intelligence
Reframed. Gardner claims that people
are born with an innate strength of certain intelligences and therefore
interact and learn in different ways. Designing an environment to promote the
intelligences offers every child an opportunity to excel and grow to their
potential through their natural and unique individual composition of these
The nine intelligences include: Linguistic
learner; Logical/Mathematical learner; Spatial learner; Musical Rhythmic
learner; Bodily/Kinesthetic learner; Interpersonal learner; Intrapersonal
learner; Naturalist learner; and the Existential learner (Gardner, 1999).
Conversations with the children and observing
their play will help determine the areas of strengths and intelligences of each
child. Once identified, areas of
interest are designed to accommodate the intelligences and ensure that every
child has an opportunity to excel in her or his area of strength as well
explore activities and experiences that are new.
Our primary focus before learning takes place
is to ensure the children feel safe. Once a sense of safety is established,
trust will develop and then self-actualization, which lays the foundation for
future growth and development.
- Talking with the
children at group time and have them contribute ideas and thoughts
- How do we keep their
- What safety rules do we
- Providing dialogue for
- Informing the children
that we are a safe adult and they can come to us if they do not feel safe
for any reason
- Listening to the
children’s ideas, concerns, and dreams.
- Encouraging sharing of
thoughts and ideas
- Acting upon the
- Willingness to change
the curriculum to accommodate the children’s ideas
- Follow through
in the Curriculum
- Recognizing and
embracing all facets of our global cultures
- Moving beyond a
mono-culturally dominant program model
- Learning and using
words and phrases in the child’s first language
- Providing the words to
start the problem-solving process
- Demonstrate empathy
Promoting a Violence-Free Curriculum
- Zero tolerance for
- No gun play and no
- Modeling acts of kindness
- Identifying and
validating children’s feelings of frustration in sharing and turn taking
- A philosophy based on
learning through play and nature
- A community preschool
and child care working with families as partners
- Enhancing self-worth and self-regulation
- Providing a safe and healthy environment
- Maintaining the dignity of every child
- Advocating and ensuring children’s rights
- Providing an enriched and inclusive environment in which to live and
- Embracing the community as a whole
“There’s no way that we can help
children to love and preserve this planet,
if we don’t give them direct experiences with
the miracles and blessings of