PROGRAMS

 

OUTSIDE KIDS OCEAN FOREST KINDERGARTEN

FOR CHILDREN AGES 3-6
AN ENTIRELY OUTSIDE  EXPERIENCE

 

Philosophy
I believe that children learn best out of doors, and I believe that most if not all of pre-K and Kindergarten standards can be met in natural creative ways that do not require children to sit indoors at a work table or center.
Outside Kids forest kindergarten meets in local, natural spaces. The sky is our ceiling, the trees are our walls, and the floor is the living Earth. Our students learn to identify local flora and fauna, recognize patterns in nature, build physical competence, agility, and confidence, and develop a solid foundation for lifelong learning.  Outside Kids are busy climbing trees, recognizing plants that can heal or harm us, identifying and observing animals, observing changes on the land, painting, drawing, crafting, and playing in nature’s playground. Mother Nature provides the most meaningful lesson plans for the young child, from observing and participating in the natural rhythm of the seasons to counting and sorting acorns and pinecones, to watching the magical transformation from tadpoles to frogs and even recognizing patterns in the tree branches that look like the letters in their name. Using wild harvested materials in our play and work helps us to experience our interdependence through all of our senses.   
With a strong daily rhythm, our classes are infused with songs, games, poetry, storytelling, and plays.  This creative work develops, among a wide array of skills and qualities, a keen memory, a rich vocabulary, the firm foundation for future literacy, and a strong sense of rhythm. Our imagination acts as a bond between ourselves and nature, helping us to develop reverence, understanding, and compassion.  Daily, the land offers a host of new adventures to spark the natural curiosity and imagination of each child.
What we love, we are likely to protect and to love something we must know it.  Natural settings afford the children direct experience with a world not made by humans where we can feel ourselves a part of a larger community of life.
My mission is to foster a positive connection between young children and the natural environment. We take care of what we love, and by nurturing a love for our natural spaces in our young children, they will grow up to be the kind of human beings that will care for Mother Nature.

Practice
Outside Kids program is inspired by the model of Cedarsong Nature School and LifeWays 
Cedarsong’s child-led, emergent curriculum, is complimented with the Lifeways seasonal calendar that brings stories, songs and festivals to celebrate year-round.
The children’s growing capacities are supported with a strong daily rhythm. Our school days are are infused with songs, games, poetry, storytelling, and play. A typical day will follow a rhythm that looks like this:
Arrival, greetings
Morning Circle
 Foraging snack and hike, play, discover and observe
 Big Snack
 Seasonal Art and Service Project
 Beach Play or Hike
 Lunch
 Clean-up/ Storytime puppetry
 Dismissal


Why Forest Kindergarten?
 The average North American child spends seven hours per day in front of a screen, compared to 30 minutes per day playing outside in a natural setting.  Yet recent research indicates that experiences in nature are essential for healthy growth and development. Many children are missing a crucial stage of their development- connection to nature.  Abundant time in natural settings yields long-term benefits in children’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. Outside Kids Forest kindergarten program is based on this research and provides an exemplary outdoor environmental education experience for our children.
Our Parks System has made exploring our barrier island ecosystem readily available to all. Specifically, Hanna Park  Dutton Island Preserve and Fort Caroline provide the perfect setting with their pristine Florida scrub hammock, forest, wetland, dunes, and beach all in one location.
In a time when the connection between humans and the rest of nature is most vulnerable,  Forest Kindergartens gives children daily opportunities to develop a deep positive connection with nature. We take care of what we love. Our natural environment needs our love and protection.

 

Let Nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth

“Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.” – Thomas Berry

“The wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned to ask.”
— Nancy Newhall

"The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul."
Robert Wyland

"A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the sea glass, the seaweed, the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean."
Henry Grunwald