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.
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.
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.
Paying the staff and fees for the program are important details that need to be 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.
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. >>