Nature-Based Kindergarten Pilot Program
Parkland School Division (PSD) Early Childhood Services has developed a partnership with Muir Lake School and Scouts Canada Camp (at Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area) to create an optional Kindergarten pilot program that will get children active and in touch with nature while essentially extending a child's kindergarten experience from half-time to full-time in the process.
The program responds to identified early childhood indicators that demonstrate a need for additional social and physical development programming within our division. This pilot also seeks to explore the impact on early learning using the natural environment as a place where curiosity, play, problem-solving and calculated risk-taking can take place in a safe way.
2017-2018 Registration Full
Registration is now full for the 2017-2018 school year.
Program Key Elements
- Research demonstrates that experiences in nature are beneficial to all areas of development
- This opportunity is one solution to all day EVERYDAY quality programming for kindergarten children in PSD
- Children may attend this program at 4½ years of age in the year prior to their first year of kindergarten
- This is an excellent learning opportunity for all kindergarten children
- Children will continue in their community kindergarten classrooms on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then come to nature extension on Tuesdays, Thursdays and alternating Fridays
This early years enrichment opportunity will allow children to spend the vast majority of their day outside engaged in meaningful ways with their body, mind and spirit while located in a natural setting. These students will continue with their current Parkland School Division kindergarten programming within their respective community schools.
Working as a group of explorers, nature-based kindergarten children will be given additional outdoor opportunities by Parkland School Division to be self-directed through their own curiosity and play. Using multiple natural learning environments, children will develop confidence in their own abilities to investigate and to collaborate outdoors and within their natural environment. Children will be physically active and engaged in movement skills that will facilitate their balance, stamina and strength.
Children will be supported by trained, certificated staff who have prepared not only a curriculum for this pilot, but also a risk management plan to include activities and learning experiences that occur outside. In order to ensure an optimal environment for the children, a teacher and one or more educational assistants will be available to support the kindergarten students.
The program will be taught outdoors in two areas, depending on the season. Most of the program will be run offsite at the Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area Scouts Canada Camp, and the remainder will be held at Muir Lake School.
The Chickakoo Lake area offers hiking, waterfront, rock wall, wetland and forest areas, and many other learning spaces for pilot participants. The forest and fields around Muir Lake School have been shared by the Jespersen Family for our use.
Children will be provided outdoor and nature-based learning opportunities for upwards of 80% of their time. Indoor shelters, washrooms and learning labs may be used to supplement the outdoor learning experiences.
The cost to enrol your child in this pilot program is $375 per month. This includes instruction from a certificated teacher and educational assistant from Parkland School Division. Bus transportation is included from either Spruce Grove or Stony Plain (locations to be confirmed).
Parents participating in this pilot project will be responsible for taking their children directly to the Bus Transfer Site in Spruce Grove or Stony Plain. A PSD staff member will supervise and accompany children to the site.
Extended Hours of Programming
Additional programming will be available in Spruce Grove for those who need their child to remain until 5pm. An additional fee will be required for this service. Details will be available soon.
We will be keeping a wait list in case of cancellations or if we get enough registrations for an additional class. If you are interested in having your child on our wait list, please call the numbers below.
For more information contact:
Early Childhood Development Supervisor
Support and Mentor Coordinator