Outdoor Preschool Program Mother Nature Academy provides an opportunity for children (2 1/2 to 5 years old) to learn confidence, competence, and skills for kindergarten readiness in a natural, outdoor environment. Much research has been done on the concept of outdoor learning environments but, in the United States, an outdoor learning environment is generally only an extension of an indoor classroom. In Europe, forest kindergartens are very common. .
The children spend their entire “class” time in the forest, learning through their hands-on experiences and developing strength and dexterity through play. In the video link, you will note that the children in forest kindergartens are happy, curious, and competent; handling with ease activities that have become taboo in the United States, for fear of litigation. Interviews with parents show us that these children are eager to go to “school.” In most European countries, children do not start any formal academics until age 7. In fact, many of these countries, including Finland, Belgium, and the Netherlands have some of the highest scores in the world on standardized tests. The United States ranks a dismal 20th in the world. We can assume those countries must be doing something right! Research has shown for years that young children are not ready to absorb formal academics efficiently until around age 7. We also know that young children learn best through play. Once they have the solid foundation of play-based, experiential learning, they are far more ready to accept formal academics. At Mother Nature Academy, we are aware that, in the United States, many parents are concerned that their child will be “behind” if they don’t know certain things that are widely accepted as kindergarten readiness. As a culture, we believe, regardless of the plethora of research to the contrary, that if our children do not know how to count to 20 or cannot recognize the alphabet by the time they go to kindergarten, they will be “behind” and never be able to catch up with their peers. We embrace the many years of study and evidence-based research that shows programs like the forest kindergartens of Europe as a wonderful, developmentally appropriate way to begin learning through play. We also recognize the need of American parents to find a preschool that will produce children that are “kindergarten ready.” Mother Nature Academy is the first early childhood education facility in North Carolina that has married these two approaches. We will provide your children with access to tools they need to succeed in their future education in a safe, natural, outdoor environment. Students at Mother Nature Academy will spend 100% of their morning outdoors, learning through playful, hands-on experiences. These experiences include a ¼-mile nature trail and 6.5 acres of natural habitat, as well as trained early childhood educators that will work with your child’s interests to help them learn what may be required by traditional kindergartens. Learn more about our facility here.