On Fridays, Mother Earth serves as both our teacher and classroom, as we enjoy many wild natural areas each week. While children immerse themselves in nature for this extended period of time, our goal is to stimulate their innate curiosity, foster compassion and empathy for all living beings, all while providing opportunity for interest-led learning to flow organically.
Our Core Values:
Helping children create a connection to our land, and inspiring a sense of wonder, gratitude, and responsibility for the earth, is the greatest gift we can give the earth and each other. People who are in awe of nature will always be a protector of it – not just in words, but in actions – big and small.
When we enter the forest we enter the home of many beings, only some of which we can see or hear, and we want to be the most respectful house guests we can be. When we walk through the paths, we use our forest voices, and respect that many beings live among the understory of the forest, the saw palmettos and cabbage palms. Many insect, lizards, and other small creatures live in the nooks and crannies of these plants, and the plants themselves are also beings to be respected and not hit as we walk along. We are not there to dominate and use the space to only our purposes
The trees also have feelings, so we only climb those who can bear the weight of a child, and never hit them, or swing on the spanish moss or vines that may hang from them.
Many children like to pick plants, flowers, berries, and ferns, this is best done by asking the plants permission and then sharing gratitude, while being mindful of the plants place in their environment. Are they the only flower, or are they among a field of flowers that will not be affected by a child graciously taking some.
Many locations we visit hold a deep indigenous history, which we also recognize and honor; having opportunities to respectfully explore the rich local heritage further unites children to the earth and the generations who have both shaped it, and been shaped by it.
Reverence in children is transformed into advocacy as they step into the world in their rightful place as land stewards.
Rhythm is a core value of our entire school year – our days, weeks and school year all follow predictable rhythms, and this principle is essential on our forest day as well.
We let the rhythms of nature guide us. Flow learning allows us to orient ourselves to the nature cycle – much like the rising and setting sun, our energy and focus shifts throughout the day. Teachers plan the flow of their day with times to create enthusiasm, focus, and share inspiration, all in tune with our own natural rhythms, of higher and lower energies, while offering time for reflection and downtime.
Children who regularly engage in service activities reap the many benefits from a young age – service is known to foster appreciation, enhance perspective, boost self-esteem and confidence, and develop a sense of purpose, and self-awareness. Our nature days offer many opportunities to serve our greater community and recognize our interdependence.
Invasive plant pulling, coastal tree planting, and trash clean up are a few of the ways we have helped serve others, at locations such as Crowley Nature Center, Phillippi Park, and Robinson Preserve.
Naturalist skill acquisition
Age appropriate, purposeful naturalist skills are interwoven throughout the program, inspired by our locality, and what we believe are essential wilderness skills and deeper understandings for children to acquire – this ranges from building a fire safely, learning bird language, native plant identification, building shelters, and many, many more.
Each class incorporates core routines into their day in nature that enhance and enrich their naturalist practice, awareness, and knowledge of place. These are learning habits, such as sit spots, gratitude circles, expanding our senses, opening circle, and story of the day, to name a few, that help children get out of their heads and into their senses, and allow us to remember our original instructions, what humans evolved with – a blueprint designed for a dynamic awareness of nature. Each human being possesses this ancient blueprint for connecting with the natural world, and core routines bring this into our consciousness effortlessly.
Yet, what does the day look like from a student’s perspective?
Having fun in nature
Exploring new things
Finding new animals
Learning new animal tracks in the mud
Feeling, energetic, happy, carefree