Victoria Nature School Society (VNS) is a non-profit, community-based organization committed to inspiring a love of child-led play and exploration in nature. The Victoria Nature School Programs, located at PKOLS (Mt. Douglas Park), offer unique forest and beach learning environments combined with a child-directed, play-based learning philosophy and experienced educators trained as forest school practitioners by Forest School Canada. The result is a passionate, primary learning community that promotes child-directed playful exploration, physical activity, developmentally appropriate literacy, art and music, and a deep understanding of nature and sustainability all taking place in one of the most magical forest and beach settings the Victoria area has to offer. This progressive organization began as Victoria's first forest school in September 2013 and offers the following:
Forest School Programs for children ages 3-5 Years
Forest School Programs for children ages 6-8 Years
Teacher-Training Workshops (Preschool, K-Grade 6)
Resources for Teachers & Parents
To help children, parents, educators, and community members connect with nature.
1.) To provide nature-based educational programs for children.
2.) The Victoria Nature School aims to be a model of collaboration, sharing passions and talents with other educators looking to create new systems of education.
3.) To provide forest and nature school training to educators throughout BC and Canada.
4.) To provide similar and related services as determined by the membership.
VNS is committed to providing forward-thinking early childhood and teacher-training programs, designed using current research to inspire and challenge learning through child-led play and exploration in nature.
VNS' philosophy is rooted in the forest school model and is based on the belief that bringing children into nature helps them learn in a self-guided manner, and enables them to flourish as creative and innovative learners, responsible adventurers, and playful, collaborative thinkers. At the Victoria Nature School, the goal is to help children explore what excites their spirit!
The Victoria Nature School programs are grounded in a child-led, inquiry-based philosophy and create an environment where play, exploration, music and movement, and creative self-expression emerge to create a happy and vibrant learning community. It is within this foundation that developmentally-appropriate early literacy and numeracy skills will be explored. Children will also experience the daily practice of mindfulness and gratitude through activities such as 'thank-yous' before snacks, reflections, meditation, and yoga.
What makes the Victoria Nature School unique is the forest and beach location and that the school and non-profit were started by parent volunteers. The Victoria Nature School is currently in its 6th year running; has qualified forest school practitioners and ECE's that have been with the school since the beginning.
Exploring Literacy Outside!
The educators at the Victoria Nature School provides rich learning environments for children creating a strong literacy foundation by using Singing English song-games and techniques. These activities help create a strong foundation for reading and writing through the children's exploration of the relationship between sound and symbols. These pre-literacy activities are learned through song-games, where the children move and sing, internalizing the structure of our spoken language. Once the songs are well-known, the teacher introduces techniques that help take the student's oral understanding of the song to fun pre-reading and writing activities; all which can be done outside! To learn more about Singing English and to watch a free video lesson, visit www.singingenglish.com.
Instilling responsibility in our children is vital to forging a more sustainable and respectful living philosophy. Children who recognize the connection between themselves and nature will be inspired to be good stewards of our planet. Providing a safe, nurturing outdoor learning environment is fundamental in early childhood development to promote healthy, confident, empathetic and happy children. Being outside creates a strong community among children by providing meaningful opportunities for collaboration. We also provide time and space for children to reflect quietly on their experiences.
How It All Started
How did the Victoria Nature School Society happen? Bonnie Davison, a parent, elementary school teacher, and education consultant was trying to find a preschool for her children that took them outside rain or shine. As an outdoor enthusiast, Bonnie valued daily time spent in nature and felt nature connection to be an important foundation for early childhood. In September of 2013, with encouragement and support from other parents, her husband, and community, a board of enthusiastic volunteers was formed and the Victoria Nature School Society was created!
Bonnie was fortunate to be part of the first group of educators in Canada trained as Forest School Practitioners in 2013, through Forest School Canada, which is now part of the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada. The forest school philosophy which focuses on the importance of nature connection and nature as the teacher and classroom has been a strong foundation for VNS since the beginning. Over the years, a great relationship with Saanich Parks has developed and a talented staff appeared! VNS continues to attract amazing families, volunteers, educators, and most importantly, special children who we are all blessed to learn and explore with!