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Environmental Education

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Environmental Education

Excellent environmental education programs…

Creative learning experiences that are hands-on and learner-centered, where students teach each other and educators are mentors and facilitators.

Excellent environmental education programs…
Are grounded in a real-world context that is specific to age, curriculum, and place, and encourage a personal affinity with the earth through practical experiences out-of-doors and through the practice of an ethic of care.

Excellent environmental education programs…
Create exciting and enjoyable learning situations that teach to all learning styles, promote life-long learning, and celebrate the beauty of nature.

Our Philosophy
Great Beginnings’ Montessori curriculum includes a science-based, hands-on learning opportunity for children. Children at Great Beginnings spend significant time in outdoor settings, where they can play, learn, explore and experience the natural world around them. Great Beginnings provides opportunities for children to develop their physical and mental health, deep connections with nature, and strong ties to their surrounding community in a safe, nurturing and positive environment.

For children, time spent in nature and discovering the world around them has numerous benefits contributing to healthy childhood development. Great Beginnings’ believes that time in nature is vital to the social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of 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.

How do you include the outdoors as part of the Montessori classroom?
· Provide opportunities to intentionally connect classroom learning with outdoor learning and exploration.
· Children learn to prepare soil, plant seeds, weed the garden, water seedlings and maintain the gardens – with this; they experience the joy and satisfaction of harvesting what they have grown.
· Our students learn where food comes from and the importance of the natural plant cycle. This, in turn, instills a sense of intrinsic enjoyment and satisfaction when a child connects with nature.
· Children go on nature walks and use all their senses to observe the changing of the seasons.
· Children build fairy houses from the materials found in nature, creatively inventing a shelter.
· Great Beginnings students learn to love nature and develop a foundation for this simple, life-long joy.

Curriculum
The curriculum is balanced, seasonally oriented, age-appropriate and focused on current best practices in the fields of early childhood and environmental education. Before the age of seven, children mostly communicate through play and learn when they are engaged and active. Using our outdoor classrooms as a primary teaching tool, the program is infused with nature topics and materials.

Maria Montessori observed that children thrive on direct experience and that their hands are their primary teachers. This principle is woven into our classrooms through concrete, hands-on materials. Through direct interaction with the materials, children come to understand a concept using their own senses. They enjoy learning and are fulfilled by learning. They draw on this primary experience later when they begin to understand and explore concepts abstractly. The same is true in the natural world. Children, and all people, require direct personal experience to fully understand the world around them. Nature’s materials awaken a child’s senses in ways that even our classroom materials cannot. Nature demands the integration and use of all the senses.

Aftercare
Nature allows children the freedom to play in an unstructured space, which has a positive effect on their development and can foster the growth of life-long conservation values.

Teacher Training
Great Beginnings educators are provided with sustained professional development, tools, and resources that support their role in providing students with high-quality environmental education. Environmentally literate educators are needed in order to produce environmentally literate students.




 

Mini hike

How much of the micro-world can you find along a three foot string outdoors?

Outside reading

Reading to the children outdoors in the school's natural garden amphitheater. 

Painting with rocks

Creating art with rubbings and natural objects.

  

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, reminds us of why it's important to get unplugged and get out into the wild.