What is a nature preschool?
The Natural Start Alliance, one of the groups that conducted the survey, defines nature preschools as schools that use nature as the organizing principle for their programs. Nature preschools require their teaching staff to have skills and experience in both early childhood education and environmental education. A significant portion of the school day in nature preschools is spent outside. Forest kindergartens are a type of nature preschool that takes place entirely outdoors, often allowing the children’s interests and curiosity to direct the day’s activities and inform the curriculum.
How much of the time will children be outside?
Children will be outside 50% of every day in all kinds of weather: rain, snow, and sunshine. The school provides good boots and good wet weather gear for all enrolled children. Families provide all other indoor and outdoor clothing as necessary. Children will never go outside when it is dangerous to do so.
Is nature play more dangerous?
Nature play is no more dangerous than the other kinds of activities children love to do: running, playing sports, riding in a car, jumping on a trampoline. We always consider safety and learn how to dress for the weather, which plants are safe and which are not, how to interact (or not) with wildlife and strangers, and how to take care of ourselves and each other in a variety of situations.
Why is nature play important?
o Regular habits of active play in childhood are one of the best predictors of active adulthood. Centers for Disease Control (1999) “Guidelines for School and Community Programs to promote Lifelong Physical Activity among Young People”
o Outdoor play in an open environment allows children to play more creatively, to better concentrate, and to play more with other children.
o Frequent unstructured childhood play in natural settings has been found to be the most common influence on the development of life-long conservation values. (Chawla, Louise (1999) “Life paths into effective environmental action” The Journal of Environmental Education.
Who are the teachers?
All preschool educators are certified by the Department of Early Education and Care and have years of experience teaching young children. They are certified in first aid and CPR, and attend professional development classes in both early education as well as members of The Trustees.
How old must my child be?
Your child must be 4 years old by April 1st to be eligible and for our program. Families looking for an additional year before Kindergarten for their 5-year-old child are encouraged to consider our school.
Where is the school located?
Set on 347-acre Moose Hill Farm in Sharon, MA, our stunning campus offers immeasurable opportunities for investigation, observation, and discovery in a variety of woodlands, hillside hayfields and pastures. Our indoor classrooms are set in the main house on the first floor and are filled with natural light and windows facing all sides of our campus.
The property also hosts grass-finished cattle, which have been raised on the Moose Hill Farm. Managed with rotational grazing practices, habitat preservation models for ground nesting birds and minimal stress through sustainable stocking, the meat is of top quality.
Pigs have also been raised at Moose Hill Farm on both pastures and in woods, all perfect habitats for pigs. The pigs are fed freshly packed grain, vegetables, breads and spent barley grain from local businesses.
The farm also hosts chickens and an egg CSA.
Will my child be ready for kindergarten?
Kindergarten readiness is one of the goals of our new school. We believe that the more trust and knowledge you give children, the more they will grow and learn. Nature based education has been shown to increase cognitive development, strengthen problem solving and emotional intelligence, and develop necessary executive skills. Children need the opportunity to learn to control their emotional and cognitive impulses, to develop initiative, persistence, invention and empathy. These abilities along with flexibility, self-awareness and self regulation will contribute to success in the elementary school years. And yes, we will also emphasize literacy, math, science and social studies.