Garden of Eden Daycare "Nature-based project proposal"

Objective

Initiate / integrate nature-based learning from an early age in children who will continue in the Adventist school system, in order to promote early development, nature awareness, and foster stronger relationships with God.

Breakdown of Proposal

I will present:

  • proposal for a nature-based daycare in the Seventh-day Adventist school system
  • biblical ground for the need of a program that is nature-based, which can promote a stronger relationship with God.
  • how outdoor education benefits a child being by engaging with nature at an early age
  • the physical and spiritual benefits of this program being part of our institution

As members of the Seventh-day Adventist movement, we place a high standard in the education of our children. As the Adventist movement grew throughout the years, the education of our children has also grown and developed. At its conception, the education philosophy of a Seventh-day Adventist school focused on leading children to a deeper knowledge of God and his purpose for his creation through physical, spiritual, intellectual, and social-emotional knowledge.

According to the website on Adventist Education, "Education in its broadest sense is a means of returning human beings to their original relationship with God (NAD, 2017)."

The program I am proposing to the Adventist School system is an in-house daycare classroom in our schools that will develop children from infant (0-12months) to Preschool( 3-5 yrs) in the areas of physical and spiritual growth. This will aid in training children from birth the principles of our movement with an integration to outdoor education, as we make use of God's first textbook. The use of nature in the classroom is not only supported by the word of God and the writings of Ellen G. White, but it is also supported by present research in nature-based curriculums. This program will not only support our principles, but it will increase staff retention, student retention, and positively effect the school's effectiveness in the community.

>> Biblical Support <<

In the Bible, we learn that through nature we gain knowledge of the character of God. God created the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all creatures, that from them we may be able to learn first-hand who he is. Nature is God's first textbook --where the essentials of life were to be learned. We see in the Bible many passages on how we are to learn from nature and build a deeper appreciation and relationship with the Creator. Below are some references from Scripture that give an awareness of what the Bible has to say about nature and what it can teach us. The verses mentioned are not an exhaustive portrayal of all that the Bible has to say about nature-based learning. However, this can be a starting point in looking into how nature can be used in the classroom and as the classroom.

Bible References:

  • Psalm 104 - God as an artist through the display of nature
  • Isaiah 40 - God's sovereignty shown through his creation
  • Romans 1- Seeing the creator in the creation
  • Genesis 1-3 - God as a creator of all things
  • Psalm 19:1-3 - Nature shows God's majesty and power
  • Gospels - Jesus teaches using nature references and in outdoor locations
"TO HIM WHO LEARNS THUS TO INTERPRET ITS TEACHINGS, ALL NATURE BECOMES ILLUMINATED; THE WORLD IS A LESSON BOOK, LIFE A SCHOOL. THE UNITY OF MAN WITH NATURE AND WITH GOD, THE UNIVERSAL DOMINION OF LAW, THE RESULTS OF TRANSGRESSION, CANNOT FAIL OF IMPRESSING THE MIND AND MOLDING THE CHARACTER." - TRUE EDUCATION, pg?

As a Christian teacher, building disciples of Christ are a top priority, not just for me but for the institution. Providing a program where children can get acquainted with God's creation and explore the wonders that God can teach them through nature is a benefit not only for the child, but for the whole body of Christ.

As a Christian institution that holds in high regards the physical and spiritual health of its members, instilling a love for the outdoors from an early age in children is a great way to tackle both of these topics. Providing a childcare program that does not simply make sure the child is safe and entertained, but rather a place where children can learn, grow, and develop in a way that it is not seen in present day. This is due to the lack of awareness in nature.

"THE SYSTEM OF EDUCATION INSTITUTED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD WAS TO BE A MODEL FOR MAN THROUGHOUT ALL AFTERTIME. THE GARDEN OF EDEN WAS THE SCHOOLROOM, NATURE WAS THE LESSON BOOK, THE CREATOR HIMSELF WAS THE INSTRUCTOR, AND THE PARENTS OF THE HUMAN FAMILY WERE THE STUDENTS." - TRUE EDUCATION, PG 21

I propose that we take the children out in nature where they can explore and experience all the things that God created for our enjoyment. Children develop a sense of connection with nature and therefore learn that through nature they can see God and speak with him. Taking children, as as early as infants, into a natural environment can lead their curiosity to wonder about creation and the perspectives of life. As they learn to walk and reach even higher obstacles, they learn to connect with more of the outside world and increase their knowledge of what is around them. As they learn to listen to the silence in nature and develop an ear for the voice of God, a child will learn to commune with God in a deeper level, than a child in a classroom surrounded by artificial colors and smells. The simplicity of creating things with items found in nature versus painting a printed picture can make all the difference in their childhood development and how they see the world.

According to the Ellen G. White, as parents and teachers, we should be exposing our kids to nature from a very early age. White suggests in the book True Education, that parents take their children in the early years of the children's lives to learn from nature. She goes on to say, "To the little child, not yet capable of learning from the printed page or of being introduced to the routine of the schoolroom, nature presents an unfailing source of instruction and delight"(p.100). Not only should children learn before they enter the classroom, but she suggests that nature is the ideal place where this can be accomplished.

"The book of nature, which spread its living lessons before them, afforded an exhaustless source of instruction and delight. On every leaf of the forest and stone of the mountains, in every shining star, in earth and sea and sky, God's name was written. With both the animate and the inanimate creation--with leaf and flower and tree, and with every living creature,..." -True Education, pg 22

The Simplicity of Nature-based Education

When people think of outdoor education, they think that fancy equipment or some extravagant location is necessary. However, this is not what I am proposing, but rather a simple classroom and a yard where children can be exposed to the outside world as much as they are indoors. A nature-based classroom can be as simple as taking walks in the backyard, where the kids can collect items to examine and bring it into the classroom, to gardening, or taking care of animals. It is plainly taking advantage of the places around them and learning from these places (Wattchow, 2011). No matter the limitation or the area you are in, nature can still be part of the child's daily life if the teacher proposes to do so.

By providing a child-care service for the school that has a foundation in outdoor education, we can help this generation go back to nature. We notice that children these days are spending a lot of time indoors, particularly with technology. This program is not against technology, for technology is useful, especially outdoors. However, as a Christian institution, teaching our children the usefulness of getting involved with nature and the community are ideal. As this program comes together, it also brings communities together, by teaching useful skills that can foster an act of service among the children and the community.

In outdoor education, the whole body is involved when the students learn, this is when learning becomes holistic. The children do not only exercise their mind but also their physical bodies. In addition, there is continual checking for understanding as the children explore and become acquainted with nature. The teacher is an aid in facilitating the process of learning and allowing the students to explore and question what they see (Gilbertson et al.2006). This allows the students to think for themselves and learn without having cut-out instructions for their everyday tasks. This develops their imagination and capacity to connect deeper with their lessons, because now they take part in developing the lesson.

Outdoor education is focused on hands-on, experiential learning and critical thinking, which are skills that children should become familiar with as they grow up. By developing these skills in children at an early age, we give them an advantage in their education. While traditional students are learning colors and shapes in kindergarten, our babies and toddlers will be experiencing the ecosystem around them and how things work. We expose their brains to see a different world than what is considered the norm today.

This is the future of our children, where curiosity leads to learning, as easy as stepping outside of the doors.
(photo credit --google images)

Crunching the Numbers

To initiate a program like this in our school will require added space. If the school has the room for this program, it wouldn't cost much at all. Other then the space, you will need to purchase changing tables, cribs, chairs, and tables. If the school had a pre-school program in the past, they may have items that can be reused.

*Minimal as the plan is to be outside as much as possible

Since this program is not focused on staying indoors, we do not have to worry about expensive equipment or unnecessary items, such as toys and other forms of child entertainment. However, the focus is outdoor education, and therefore, we would need outdoor space. Most schools already have a playground outside, but as time progresses a garden or a small pond may also be developed.

*Doesn't not need to be elaborate, but simple home made accents that will promote outdoor education and learning

Paying the staff and fees for the program are important details that need to be spoke considered. Basing our staffing on the enrollment total will determine how many staff members will be needed. The staff can be made-up of part-time, full-time, teacher-aids, and volunteers. Below is a chart that helps us understand the amount of staff needed.

Full-Time Professional Staff will be paid as teacher, all others will be paid hourly and can be determined on the school budget and enrollment.
The *other is for parents or community members who would like to enroll their child in the daycare, if space permits. Priority will be for staff members that work for that school or neighboring SDA schools.

If space is available on school campus >>

$2,100 budget can start the program

If space is not available >> the cost of an additional space needs to be calculated, plus the above mentioned. >>

Space can cost from $5,000-$10,000 depending on the size.

Increase Retention Rates

Teachers:

In all school systems across the board, we are always faced with the fact that females make up 2/3 of the population of teachers. This becomes an issue when female teachers decide to start a family and not return to school the following year. These teachers have to place their young infants in daycare in oder to come and work. This program, however, will aid in this issue, because teachers (male or female) with a child (not of school age) can bring their child to work. They would leave their child at the school daycare and go on with their normal schedule. The teachers would have the peace of mind of knowing how their child is being taken care of and also have the ability to check on them or feed them during their free time. The establishment of this program would make it easier to come back to work after their maternity leave. It would also provide a better connection between the growing child and the mother/father, as well as have a sense of family community in our schools.

Students:

For private schools, retention and enrollment are always at the top of the list of concerns. Even though this program targets the children that cannot attend school because they are not of school age, by providing this program we can ease their transition to starting school at our location once they reach the school age. Better yet, the children that go through this program will already be integrated and exposed to outdoor education, which can continue as they move up in grade level. This program will lead a transformation of a new generation of students in our school system.

nature-based + daycare = Beliefs

The "Garden of Eden Daycare" is a program that is founded and supported by our beliefs. We focus on God, service, learning, and building communities. The fundamental ideas of this daycare are to develop the child's knowledge of God and themselves, respective to this world. When children develop a loving relationship with Christ, then they will understand the plans that he has for them. This is a simplistic way to change the course for generations in the future, and to bring children back to nature, where everything started.

Lets learn from the master Teacher
You are never too young to explore the wonders of this world or to learn about your Father in heaven and the plans he has for you.
References

Gilbertson, Bates, McLaughlin, & Ewert (2006). Outdoor education: methods and strategies. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Delisio, E. R. (2009, February 13). In-School Daycare Benefits Faculty, Community. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin512.shtml

Louv, Richard (2016). Vitamin N: 500 ways to enrich the health and happiness of your family and community. Chapel Hills, NC: Algonquin Books.

NAD. (2017). The Approach and Philosophy of Adventist Education. NAD Office of Education. Retrieved May 01, 2017, from http://adventisteducation.org/about/adventist_education/overview

Wattchow &amp; Brown (2011). A pedagogy of place: outdoor education for a changing world. Victoria, Australia: Monash University Publishing.

White, Ellen (1952). True education. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press.

Created By
Wendy De La Cruz
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