Douglas Park Community

Preschool and Child Care

 Nature-based Early Learning



 “Collecting the Child”

…you cannot influence a child’s mind

until you have their heart… Dr. Gordon Neufeld


Our philosophy is based on Learning Through Play.


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.

 

Engaging Minds

 

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 experimenting.

 

 Learning Through 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 family.  



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 nature.

 

 

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.”

-Howard Gardner

 

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 intelligences. 

 

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.

 

Promoting Safety

  • Talking with the children at group time and have them contribute ideas and thoughts regarding safety
  • How do we keep their bodies safe?
  • What safety rules do we have?
  • Providing dialogue for safety issues
  • Informing the children that we are a safe adult and they can come to us if they do not feel safe for any reason

 

Establishing Trust

  • Listening to the children’s ideas, concerns, and dreams. 
  • Encouraging sharing of thoughts and ideas
  • Acting upon the children’s ideas
  • Willingness to change the curriculum to accommodate the children’s ideas
  • Follow through 

 

Diversity 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

 

Problem-Solving Curriculum

  • Providing the words to start the problem-solving process
  • Demonstrate empathy
  • Empowerment

 

Promoting a Violence-Free Curriculum

  • Zero tolerance for violence
  • No gun play and no violent actions
  • Modeling acts of kindness
  • Identifying and validating children’s feelings of frustration in sharing and turn taking

 

Philosophy

  • A philosophy based on learning through play and nature
  • A community preschool and child care working with families as partners

 

The Fundamentals

  • 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 play
  • 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 nature.”

-Anita Olds

 

 

dsgn_2029_body.gif