Nature Preschool is new to West Side Christian School this year and it’s been a learning experience for us as well as our students -- and that’s one of the exciting things about it! We thought it would be helpful for you to hear our Nature Preschool parents’ experiences this year, and also hear their answers to commonly asked questions about Nature Preschool!
The first question we asked parents was, “What surprised you about Nature Preschool?”
So here’s what parents had to say, in their own words:
He never complains about going outside- no matter how cold or rainy it is!
I remember Ms. VerWoert saying how kids in nature preschool get sick less, and I was a little surprised by that. But halfway through the year and (knock on wood) she is right!! The fresh air these kids are getting is so good for them!
The cold weather doesn't bother them. I volunteered in December on a very very cold day. None of the kids acted or seemed cold! They are running around so much and it doesn't seem to even phase them!
My daughter doesn't naturally gravitate toward playing outside. She likes to be clean, and really enjoys sitting and doing inside activities like crafts and reading. I knew she would do great in a regular school environment. She's the kind of kid that loves to sit in a desk and walk in a line. She is highly allergic to bee stings and has big reactions to mosquito bites. Because of this, many people were surprised that I would sign her up for nature preschool. Lots of people tried to talk me out of it, afraid for her health and safety. But I really wanted to challenge her and push her out of her comfort zone. I wanted her to experience the beautiful artwork of our Creator, and fall in love with Him by experiencing His creation.
My preschooler has also taught us as parents that when outside just to stop and look around, there is a lot to learn and see if you pay attention.
It really surprised me how much being out in the elements didn't bother my daughter. Even in wet rain and cold snow!
One of the best surprises for my husband and I was the night at prayer when our daughter recited the entire Lord’s Prayer. We both cried! I had no idea she knew that by heart. THANK YOU! She told me you work on memory verses but she won't ever tell me what.
When I spent my day as the parent helper at Blandford Nature Center, I was so impressed by the "free play" time on the playscape. I knew that they spent a substantial amount of time in playing outside. What I was so impressed with was the way the teachers guided this time. Teachers were listening to students and letting them be the teachers, they were using high level vocabulary as they asked students what they were doing, they were taking the children's play and helping them to imagine/grow/learn just a step farther. There was so much student directed learning happening, it was impressive and inspiring to see.
I have a kiddo who has not always loved being messy--it doesn't seem to bother him anymore!
I have been most surprised by how "regular" school curriculum can so easily be moved outside. My child is learning all of the "normal" preschool stuff but he gets to do it outside!
Ms. VerWoert: One of the things that surprised me was how easy it has been to move the classroom outdoors. I went to trainings and read books, but when I started the year … I was nervous. But after just the first few weeks I completely relaxed. The kids were loving it, we instructors (Mrs. Kooyer is our aide) were loving it, and the learning that was taking place was incredible!
Another thing that surprised me was the fairly sophisticated level of problem solving taking place as they play. The first few weeks the kids would come to Mrs. Kooyer and me to help them, but by October we sat back and watched them navigate taking turns, building, and creating together. It is so fun to watch!
The parents have been amazing. We do get muddy here in Nature Preschool, but parents have been so great with it. It has been a blessing.
This is the first in a 6-part series. Subscribe to the blog to get subsequent posts delivered to your inbox.