Early Childhood programs

When Nature is the Classroom

By Amy and Dan Warren | Our son, Lio, hops in the car at the end of a cold and damp school day. Rosy-cheeked and smeared with earth and ash from fort-building and fire-making, he reaches down to take off his boots and empty them of leaves, water, and mud. His pockets carry the day’s found treasures: Quartz rocks, cool sticks that double as swords, acorns with their cupule caps carefully removed. He tells us about playing in the stream, falling in, and then warming up by the fire. The cold and wet, and the restorative warmth of fire, are intimate experiences for Lio, part of his personal history. Consequences—the interplay of these experiences—are naturally rooted in the context, and so they are predictable and seemingly just. So too is his personal efficacy, as he navigates the context: The warmth of the fire he helped to make, and his regained comfort, signal his effectiveness. He is but a part of a whole system called Nature.

Overcoming Covid and Cold: Life in an Outdoor Pandemic Preschool

By Iris Ponte | I wake up in the morning, and the first thing I do is check the outdoor temperature. As a preschool educator, I used to think 30 degrees was cold. Not anymore. Our school has opened in 17 degrees, multiple times. We have learned to layer, eat warm foods in thermoses, and keep moving. I was not trained to be an outdoor educator, but I have learned to embrace it. In fact, I don’t think I will ever be able to work with children again without prioritizing the outdoors.

Wonder and Earth Stewardship

By Lisa Sideris | The connection between wonder and children and childlike states is one we often take for granted. Yet wonder is also the province of scientists whose expert knowledge far exceeds that of the average layperson.

Nature’s Toolbox: Learning with Nature at the Auchlone Nature Kindergarten

Sarah Wagner | Imagine the best possible early childhood program – where children spend the day in a space beautifully organized to invite a variety of forms of children’s play, where the children remain engaged by a rich array of materials to play with, build with, and learn with, and where teachers engage the children in soft-spoken, validating ways …

I Love Nature: Nature-Based Art Education in Early Childhood

By Bian Xia | After four visits to China, Howard Gardner wrote in To Open Minds, a seminal text comparing education in China and the United States: We might contrast the Western, more “revolutionary” view with a more “evolutionary” view espoused by the Chinese.