Pollywogs Nature Playschool, is a licensed home-based childcare program, offering a small unique Play & Nature-Based preschool program as well as a Forest School program, an after-school Nature Club & Summer Session program.
At PNP it is believed that nature plays a vital role in the physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development of young children. Research shows that children who spend time in nature are healthier, can think more clearly, have an easier time paying attention, and have the ability to cope more effectively with stress. Childhood experiences in nature help stimulate children’s curiosity and interest in the world around them and help them grow intellectually in their desire to better understand the world and their place in it.
At PNP it is believed that children’s interactions with the natural world allow for the development of a lifetime of skills. Nature serves as a living classroom for our preschool and provides an ideal environment for children to learn through direct experience and play. Our Island offers an amazing ecosystem with various habitats: heathlands, forests, ocean, ponds, bogs, marshes etc. they are visited regularly and explored with curiosity, reverence, and awe. We spend the majority of our day outdoors immersed in nature, year-round in all types of weather(unless hazardous)where children can fully engage all their senses in a safe and nurturing environment.
Research has shown that Play is not only the child’s real work in life, it is also the foundation for creativity yet to come. For the young child, play is a way of understanding the world and it is vital for healthy emotional and intellectual development. In play children are much freer to master new knowledge at their own rate and in their own way. Play is the “work” of the child.
Environmental education in early childhood is a holistic concept that encompasses knowledge of the natural world as well as emotions, dispositions, and skills. According to Ruth Wilson (1994), environmental education in early childhood includes the development of a sense of wonder; appreciation for the beauty and mystery of the natural world; opportunities to experience the joy of closeness to nature; and respect for other creatures. It also includes the development of problem-solving skills and the development of interest and appreciation in the world around us. These goals acknowledge that learning is more than a cognitive process and that emotions play a particularly important role (See Harlan and Rivkin, 2008). Therefore, early childhood educators should provide opportunities for children to experience peace, joy, and fascination with nature because these emotions undergird their developing knowledge, skills, and dispositions (Gardner, 1999).
We do not follow a pre-determined curriculum. Learning evolves organically through the children's outdoor exploration and individual interests. Process-based learning is emphasized with the goal for children to acquire knowledge in a meaningful way, not to reach a prescribed end goal. Children learn about nature through direct experience, exploration, and discovery of the world around them.
All areas of development including physical, emotional, social, creative, cognitive, linguistic and spiritual growth can be worked on and developed through play with the hands-on experiential, exploratory & discovery-based approach, which is used at the Playschool.
Children develop all of their senses while being in nature, whether listening to birds, making mud pies, jumping in water or mud puddles, or when touching soft moss, bumpy lichen or tree bark. A deep understanding of science develops through investigation of nature, noticing how things change from one week to the next and over the seasons, asking questions, making discoveries, using curiosity. Math concepts develop as children measure the heights of plants, lengths of sticks & the depth of water, match leaves from one tree to another or put in order from smallest to largest, make comparisons and gain an understanding of concepts such as more (addition) or less (subtraction) when building with loose parts such as rocks, shells & sticks. We practice writing & mark making in the earth with sticks as our pencils all while developing our fine motor skills. Our time spent immersed in nature allows for endless opportunities for adding great richness to a child's vocabulary as each day brings new discoveries and the chance to consult a field guide or book for information. We utilize binoculars and magnifying glasses honing our observation skills. Self-help skills and learning independence is enhanced & encouraged when getting our outdoor gear on for the day and when taking out and putting away our food & water bottles for snack & lunch time.
In addition, children's interests are observed and documented so that their learning can be extended with information, materials or tools if desired.
A quality preschool program does not fill children with facts and scientific names but instead develops inquiring minds and the skills with which to search for explanations.
“Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.”