In this article, I am going to cover the basics of Nature School, some history, and how Oak Ridge Nature School operates.
One important thing to remember with nature schools is that no two are the same. There are many different styles of education, program designs, and ages accepted.
Where did Nature Schools come from?
Nature based education is sometimes referred to as Forest School, Outdoor School, Place-Based School, or Nature School.
The first Outdoor Schools originated in Denmark in the 1950s, known as Forest Schools, which served children between the ages of 3 and 6.
These schools had specific guidelines, program plans, and teaching philosophies and are not to be confused with the fact that children have been learning outside since the beginning of mankind.
Over time, Forest or Nature Schools slowly gained popularity in the US, and can now be found in almost every state.
Is there a difference between Forest and Nature School?
The short answer is yes, there are differences between the two. The main difference is that Forest Schools typically do not have an indoor environment and all education and activities take place outdoors, in all weather conditions. Forest Schools focus on child-centered, holistic learning opportunities.
Forest Schools follow 6 key principles, which can be found here: https://thepracticalforestschool.com/the-6-forest-school-principles/
Nature schools often have an indoor environment and are known to blur the lines between the indoor and outdoor areas. Nature School programs include natural materials indoors and offer a seamless transition of activities from one location to the next.
Nature schools offer a core curriculum that is centered around nature. They also spend a significant time outside both learning and engaging in free-play. Nature schools can be part time or full time and offer programs for a wide age range.
A great article on defining nature-based education can be found here: https://www.samarael.com/nbece
What kind of program does Oak Ridge Nature School offer?
Great question! Oak Ridge Nature School is a full or part time program for ages 12 months to the start of kindergarten (age 5). We offer a nature based curriculum with a focus on the whole child development.
This means that our entire day is full of opportunities to learn and work on valuable skills including social emotional development, language and literacy, cognitive development and fine/gross motor skills through developmentally appropriate practices.
Our classroom is designed to encourage creativity, exploration, and freedom of movement. We do not have dedicated stations, but more of a thought-out flow to allow children the opportunity to combine parts and ideas for endless play opportunities.
How does Oak Ridge Nature School keep children safe?
First and foremost, our number one priority is safety. Above all else, your child will be safe, secure, and supervised using best-practice methods. We believe that children who feel safe in their environment, both physically and emotionally, will thrive in whatever they are doing.
We offer a large, fenced in play area where children will spend the majority of their time while outside. Our play area is assessed daily for safety hazards, such as loose branches, damaged equipment, and security (open gates/blocked stairs/etc).
As part of our curriculum, we also teach children how to identify potential hazards around them both indoors and outdoors.
Our teacher is also trained and certified in infant/child CPR/1st aid and meets/exceeds the annual training requirements for licensed childcare providers.
Why choose nature school?
We belive that children learn best through movement and hands on experiences. Children who attend a nature program benefit from decreased stress, have less screen time, are less bored, and show improved critical thinking and social skills.
We also understand that there are families who value time spent outdoors, but due to work/life schedules, it may be difficult to take their children out as often as they would like. This is where Oak Ridge Nature School comes in.
Why are YOU interested in nature school?
I'd love to hear your reasons behind choosing or looking into nature school for your child.
Are you a provider looking to make changes to your current program?
Are you a parent enrolled in our program, or one similar?
Leave a comment below and share what lead you to nature schooling.