Nature Cements the New Learning: Expanding Nature-Based Learning into the K-5 Curriculum
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The increase of nature-based preschool programs in the United States, including nature preschools and forest kindergartens, has led to a growing interest in providing nature-based early childhood education (NbECE) at the elementary level. This chapter focuses on the successful expansion of nature-based early childhood education from an exemplary nature-based preschool at Chippewa Nature Center (CNC) into the Kindergarten and First Grade curriculum in Bullock Creek Public Schools in Midland, Michigan. The maturation of the CNC Nature Preschool program, and the conscientious outreach by program directors, has led to the “naturalization” of a local public school district.
We illustrate changes in public school administrator attitudes and decision-making about nature-based programming. In addition, we show how this growth in NbECE has led to improvements in child outcomes at the preschool and K-1 levels, particularly related to motivation and enthusiasm for learning, language development, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning, physical development, and executive function.
KeywordsNature-based early childhood education Nature-based preschool Forest kindergarten Language development Executive function
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