Thinking Outside the Four Walls of the Classroom: A Canadian Nature Kindergarten

Original Article

Abstract

The authors share a narrative of planning and implementing a Nature Kindergarten in the public school system in British Columbia, Canada. Inspired by similar programs in Northern Europe, the Nature Kindergarten became the first program of its kind in Western Canada. The importance of developing pedagogical principles, understanding local context and designing a program that is responsive to place is highlighted. Learning about the place in which they live offers Nature Kindergarten students opportunities for learning that cannot be found inside a classroom. This learning can be complex and layered and deepen children’s connections to their place. Outdoors, the Nature Kindergarten educators also take on a different role that has encouraged them to continue to question their thoughts and practices around emergent learning. The authors conclude that the process of creating a Nature Kindergarten provided an educational opportunity to think differently about how Kindergarten students learn, what they should be learning, and to articulate a pedagogy that embraces complexity and uncertainty.

Keywords

Canada Nature Kindergarten Pedagogy Early childhood education 

Résumé

Ce rapport narratif décrit la planification et la mise en oeuvre d’une maternelle Nature dans le système scolaire public de Colombie-Britannique, Canada. Inspirée par des programmes similaires en Europe du Nord, la maternelle Nature est devenue le premier programme de son genre dans l’Ouest canadien. L’importance de l’élaboration de principes pédagogiques et de la compréhension du contexte local, afin de concevoir un programme sensible au milieu, sont mises en évidence. Apprendre dans leur milieu offre aux étudiants des occasions d’apprentissage qui ne peuvent être trouvées dans une salle de classe. Un tel apprentissage peut être complexe, multiple et approfondir les liens des enfants avec leur monde particulier. Dans les espaces extérieurs, les éducateurs ont pris un rôle différent qui les a encouragés à remettre en question leurs idées et leurs pratiques en matière d’apprentissage émergent. Le processus de création d’une maternelle Nature a donné des occasions éducatives de réfléchir autrement sur la façon dont les jeunes élèves apprennent, sur ce qu’ils apportent à l’apprentissage, ainsi que d’articuler une pédagogie du lieu qui englobe la complexité et l’incertitude.

Resumen

Este informe narrativo describió la planificación e implementación de un Kindergarten de la Naturaleza en el sistema escolar público en British Columbia, Canadá. Inspirado por programas similares en el norte de Europa, el Kindergarten de la naturaleza se convirtió en el primer programa de este tipo en el oeste de Canadá. Se destacan la importancia de desarrollar los principios pedagógicos y la comprensión del contexto local, a fin de diseñar un programa que responda al lugar. Aprender en su lugar ofrece a los estudiantes oportunidades de aprendizaje que no se pueden encontrar dentro de un aula. Tal aprendizaje puede ser complejo, acumular y profundizar las conexiones de los niños con su mundo particular. En los espacios al aire libre, los educadores tomaron un papel diferente que los animó a cuestionar sus pensamientos y prácticas en torno al aprendizaje emergente. Los procesos de creación de un Kindergarten de Naturaleza proporcionaron oportunidades educativas para pensar de manera diferente sobre cómo aprenden los jóvenes; lo que aportan al aprendizaje, así como articular una pedagogía de lugar que abrace complejidad e incertidumbre.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Camosun CollegeVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.School District 62SookeCanada

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