Come September of next year, 22 kindergarteners will abandon their classroom each morning, rain or shine, for a hike into the woods where for the next 2 1/2 hours sticks and stones will replace pencil and paper.
The students, from Sangster Elementary School in the Victoria suburb of Colwood, may well be the first kindergarten class in Canada to spend half of their school day outside in what’s being called nature kindergarten.
It’s an idea that’s spread from Europe to North America, but so far, a concept that’s catered to preschoolers who don’t follow a set curriculum. But B.C.’s move last year to full-day kindergarten has eased the way for such a pilot project.
Once outside, the five-year-olds will walk on logs, identify plants, visit the lagoon for animal spotting and enjoy story time and songs. Later, the Sangster students will return to their portable classroom for lunch and spend the next couple hours inside.
“This is an opportunity for children to be involved in a rich experience, to learn nature in the public school system,” said Enid Elliot, an early childhood researcher who teaches at the University of Victoria’s School of Child and Youth Care as well as at Camosun College’s Faculty of Education.
“Children aren’t getting outdoor experience. Instead, two year olds know how to work an iPad.”
Ms. Elliot, with more than 30 years of early childhood education experience in both the U.S. and B.C., has been part of a group…
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