Many early childhood experts believe physical activity and unstructured free play are two main ways to learn and grow developmentally. Unfortunately, both of these ideas are usually lacking at typical early development centers. Play is usually directed by adults and students are more likely expected to sit still to complete worksheets and trace letters and numbers. What if there was a better way to facilitate early childhood education?
LET'S LET MOTHER NATURE BE THE CLASSROOM
The Concept of "nature school" or "forest kindergarten" is a form of early child education based on the German model of "Waldkindergraten" or "forest school". Learning takes place almost entirely outside and in all seasons. Children learn in a natural environment with an adult who encourages curiosity-driven play.
Earth n' Root Nature Group meets at the beautiful Soul Food Farm in Shepherdstown, WV and draws inspiration from a Reggio Emilio, Maria Montessori, and Forest school by not having a set curriculum; It is entirely child-led learning and can include:
- Exploring woods discovering plants and animals
- Recognizing patterns in nature
- Splashing in a creek looking for crayfish and minnows
- Improving balance by climbing and jumping over rocks, trees, and stumps
- Using mud to make art or as "food" in a pretend kitchen
Children have a chance to observe changes in the natural world and learn about each season. An adult is nearby to assist or encourage discussion, but never intrudes unless safety is a concern.