Nature-Based Learning Coming To Craftsbury
Two educators in Craftsbury are working to bring nature-based learning to town for children as young as 3 years old. This month Anna Crytzer is launching a new outdoor program, currently called “Forest School,” modeled after the Earthwalk program in Plainfield. Based out of Sterling College, Forest School will offer programing for school-aged children, including homeschoolers and public school students.
Meanwhile Anne Hanson would like to start a similar program for preschool children, in light of the Town Meeting Day announcement that Craftsbury's East Hill Preschool will be closing at the end of the school year. Minutes from a preschool visioning meeting held Saturday, March 23, state:
Anna & Anne expressed a hope to work together to create an organization that gives youth in our area opportunity to understand how natural systems work. Both believe that children benefit from the tactile, sensory experiences of nature to build life long cognitive, problem solving and connecting skills.
The plan is to launch a pilot preschool program in the fall, at the East Hill Preschool location, offering a nature-based curriculum and using the outdoors as the school's primary teaching space. The school's vision statement explains the impetus behind the its outdoor focus:
Our belief is that the outdoors provides multi sensory engagement that best meets the basic needs of a young nervous system; once these needs are met a child is better able to take in/integrate learning. While children’s bodies grow strong from outside play and learning, their imaginations thrive and they are inspired to engage in free/creative play. They also make connections based on their observations. In essence, they are engaging in a hard wired impulse to explore the world as scientists and explorers.
The next preschool organizing meeting, open to all interested community members, will be held at the Craftsbury Town Hall on April 27, at 11 am.