We’ve got exciting news to share!
Many of you are aware of our three-years-running outdoor education partnership with Blandford Nature Center and have seen or heard about some of the exciting opportunities this creates for our students to use the outdoors as intentional learning space and an extension of the creative work done within the classrooms.
Our outdoor education partnership with Blandford Nature Center will expand to include a nature-based preschool option that will be offered in addition to our existing preschool classes for the 2016/17 school year!
This is only the fourth such program in the state of Michigan, putting us at the forefront of innovative early childhood nature-based learning initiatives. More importantly, this nature-rich experience will help guide children to discovering more about God's created world in which they live and their place in it.
So … what is it and what does it look like?
In the nature-based preschool, the outdoors space – the nature preserve, garden, and other outdoor space both here and at Blandford Nature Center – will be the center of the preschool. Students will spend 25-50% of their time in extensive, daily outdoor play and the outdoors will follow them indoors as well, with nature-based discovery forming the backbone of the curriculum and class activities. A seasonally-driven emergent curriculum will emphasize wonder, discovery, and inquiry and students will explore the seasonal connections happening in the outdoor spaces onsite and also at Blandford Nature Center.
Our existing early childhood programs will continue their partnership with Blandford Nature Center and will continue to incorporate nature-based concepts through that partnership, as do our elementary and middle school classes; this nature-based preschool will expand those opportunities and experiences.
Running 5 mornings a week, parents will register for a minimum 2-day schedule but can select up to 5 mornings a week. Additional program details will be announced as they are available, and we hope for more specifics in time for the early childhood open house on the 21st.
Why are we expanding our preschool offering to include nature-based?
- Research supports this approach to early childhood education. Extensive educational research demonstrates that nature supports children’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual development; supports creativity and problem solving; improves academic performance; enhances cognitive abilities; increases physical activity; and improves social relationships and self-discipline. See our Pinterest boards for links to more information about the benefits of nature-based education.
- Current literature including Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods and David Sobel’s Beyond Ecophobia highlights how children today too often exchange outdoor time for indoors and screen time, leaving less time for outside exploring, playing, and investigating God’s miraculous creation. This preschool helps restore that connection with creation.
- The Lord has entrusted WSCS with a vision and has gone before us, opening doors and providing us with passionate supporters willing to invest their time and expertise, financial resources needed to turn dreams into reality, and a sense of His calling us to step forward in faith.
Celebrate with us by sharing this exciting news!