The First Year of Nature Preschool: One for the Books

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Reflecting on a wonderful year while visiting the ponies in the walnut grove

In the Walnut Grove, a quiet spot behind the garden, I stand together with several parents watching their children frolic among trees, farm animals grazing, and the first fireflies of the evening. We are quiet, reflective, and at peace. It is the end of their children’s first year at Nature Preschool. Together we are spending one more moment together before they transition to Kindergarten.As teachers, we have learned about their children. Their likes and dislikes, their strengths, their dreams and quirks. We have seen them grow from quiet and timid preschoolers to confident, strong and adventurous souls ready to tackle the world! Our parents have learned that we really meant it when we said we would go out in all kinds of weather. We hope that as they continue to trust their children as learners and provide them with lots of time to play in nature they will see them blossom into lifelong learners. Our children have learned to trust their outdoor environment as a safe place to play and explore. Not only have they learned many native plants and animals, but they have learned all about the farm and its place in nature. They have learned how the components of a farm work together and how to care for our surroundings and for our animals. Through their experiences, they have also learned a great deal about literacy, math, music, and art. Science is all around us, every day held its own set of lessons.

We stand together no longer teacher and parents, but as friends. We are part of a community. A community that seeks to stay together, shares resources for local gardening and food, meets up to pick blueberries, tell each other a great yoga class for kids, and will always remember the special times we shared. Tonight, is one of the best memories for us all. The adults trail their fingers over the backs of the ponies, listening to their children negotiate turns and bubbling with laughter in the twilight. They turn to me and ask, “This is what we’ve been missing while they are at school?” One mom declares, “I NEED this!” And I think to myself, “So did I.” You could not ask for a more perfect job or way to lead children in learning. But we are losing the light, so we turn back to the campfire to make more memories-together.

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