"Being outside in a natural environment is the most powerful tool to turning on a child's curiosity, creativity, imagination, sense of place, and understanding of community. This is such a fun way to lay the foundations for a life-long love of learning!" -Bonnie Davison, Founder, Victoria Nature School
3-5 Yr Old Preschool Program (Full Days)
The mornings are spent, rain or shine, at Mt Douglas Park/Pkols in Saanich. At lunch-time, children take a public school bus up to Gordon Head Rec Centre where they spend lunch and quiet time in the Fathlum Classroom and then the rest of the afternoon in the outside classroom. The outside classroom, created in collaboration with Gordon Head Rec Centre and Victoria Nature School parents has a sandbox, garden, mud kitchen, and lots of logs, stumps and loose parts! All snacks and lunches are the responsibility of the parents. There are 2 experienced educators and an adult volunteer with a maximum of 15 children. This is a licensed program.
3-5 Year Old Preschool Program (Half Days)
9:00am-11:30am or 12:00pm-2:30pm
These programs will be held, rain or shine, at Mt Douglas Park/Pkols in Saanich. There are 3 experienced educators with a maximum of 16 children.
Victoria Nature School Preschool Highlights
We are happy to say that we have absolutely the best teacher-student ratios. We have 3 experienced ECE (certified Early Childhood Educators) with a maximum of 16 children per class. This ratio is what is recommended by Forest School Canada and ensures that our program is of the highest saftety standards and quality.
Every afternoon we provide quiet time for children to nap, draw, journal, or listen to a story. Quiet time is also practiced in the forest each day as children participate in 'sit spots' where they have time to choose a spot to sit and reflect and observe their natural surrounding.
The staff regularly post reflections on the Victoria Nature School Facebook Page, outlining daily events, recipe ideas for snacks and lunches, insights the children had and activities we explored. This is wonderful opportunity for families to stay engaged and tuned into their child’s daily world. For those not on Facebook, all the postings can be read at the bottom of the Victoria Nature School website homepage. Additionally, notices and a monthly newsletter will be emailed to parents.
We strongly encourage parental involvement such as volunteering, taking on a community action project, fundraising, etc. We are very open to whatever you can offer so please don't hesitate to come to us with ideas. Because we know that not all families have the resources to contribute in this way, we also encourage involvement in the form of attendance to meetings, outdoor theatre productions put on by the children, potlucks, etc. that take place throughout the year.
Safety is extremely important at any nature school program. Parents will have access to our detailed Risk Management Plan. Our staff are experienced educators and wildlife enthusiasts and are well trained to handle emergencies.
The purpose of 'Art' in an early childhood program is to develop creativity, expose children to a variety of sensory experiences, and develop fine motor skills. All of these things can be accomplished through a variety of means. There will be many opportunity to do 'Art' in an outdoor environment. Most Art will involve natural materials and will often be temporary ( For example, not 'take-home") such as: Creating picture frames from sticks, patterns on the ground with leaves, flowers, etc, writing in journals, playing with mud.
Music will be an important daily part of the program at the Victoria Nature School. It will be used to help with routines, when walking, when learning about animals and plants and during organized song-game activities. There will be many opportunities for children to create their own music instruments and songs and to explore music in nature!
How do children learn to read and write when they are outdoors? Literacy development in preschool focuses on laying a strong foundation for reading and writing readiness. A child’s readiness to read and write is different for every child. The staff at the Victoria Nature School will be trained in Singing English song-games and techniques. (www.singingenglish.com) These activities provide children with the opportunity to explore oral language first through songs and movement games. These song-games are then extended to learning about phrases, stresses, syllables, tracking, tracing, and patterns. Children will be exploring these pre-literacy skills through activities such as dancing, hand tapping, drawing in the sand and representing words and phrases with sticks. There will be many opportunities for children who are ready to explore printing and reading. We will have story time and individual reading time both in the outdoor and indoor classroom. Having children being physically active at this age is an important factor in preparing the young brain for reading and writing.
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