"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 Society
5-7 Yr Old Forest School Program
This play based outdoor program is designed specifically for children 5-7 years of age with a focus on providing a secure learning environment for exploring risk, fostering curiosity and a love of learning, and creating opportunities for deep exploration into students' interests. This class has a ratio of 2 experienced educators with a maximum of 16 students. Each day will consist of time for mindfulness practice such as site spots, meditation, or yoga, forest exploration, storytelling, child-directed projects, music, and reflection; all providing opportunities for students to create deep nature-connections.
3-5 Yr Old Forest School 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 3 experienced Early Childhood Educators with a maximum of 16 children and is a licensed program.
3-5 Year Old Forest School Program (Half Days)
This morning program is held, rain or shine, at Mt Douglas Park/Pkols in Saanich. There are 3 experienced Early Childhood Educators with a maximum of 16 children.
This afternoon program is held, rain or shine, at Mt Douglas Park/Pkols in Saanich. There are 3 experienced Early Childhood Educators with a maximum of 16 children.
3-5 Year Old Forest School Highlights
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 the activities we explored. This is a 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, monthly newsletters will be emailed home at the end of each month to highlight themes that have emerged and ideas and activities the children have been exploring.
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, 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 opportunities 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 musical 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 are trained in Singing English song-games and techniques. () 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 have story time daily and individual reading time both in the outdoor and indoor classroom setting. Having children being physically active at this age is an important factor in preparing the young brain for reading and writing.