Nature-Based Kindergarten

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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 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 program 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.

Nature Kindergarten Expanding in 2019-2020

Due to a growing demand of families interested in our Nature Kindergarten Extension program, an additional class has been added to the Muir Lake site beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

Classes will be 20-25 children with a teacher and two Nature Educational Assistants.

2019-2020 Registration

UPDATE: Registration for 2019-2020 Nature Kindergarten is now FULL.

The 2019-2020 Nature Kindergarten Registration Form is now available. 

Submit your completed registration form by emailing it to honaissi@psd70.ab.ca, faxing it to 780-963-3536 or dropping it off at any PSD school office marked "Attention: Haefa Onaissi".

Please note: Your child must first be registered for Kindergarten at a Parkland School Division school before they can be registered in the Nature-Based Kindergarten program. Complete information on the registration process can be found on our Registration page.

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
  • This is an excellent learning opportunity for all kindergarten children
  • Children will continue in their community kindergarten classrooms as per the PSD Kindergarten calendar, attending Nature Kindergarten on alternating days (e.g. if a student attends regular Kindergarten on Monday/Wednesday, they will attend Nature Kindergarten on Tuesday/Thursday, and vice versa).

Outdoor Adventures

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.

Certificated Staff

Children will be supported by trained, certificated staff who use an emergent curriculum in addition to 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 two or more educational assistants will be available to support the kindergarten students.

Location

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, wetland and forest areas, and many other learning spaces. 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.

Fees

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).

Transportation

Parents participating in the Nature Kindergarten program will be responsible for taking their children directly to the bus pickup/dropoff locations in Spruce Grove or Stony Plain. Pickup/dropoff locations will be determined in June based on where participating students reside.

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 determined based on students' needs and made available soon.

Waiting List

We will strive to accommodate everyone interested in registering for this program on a first-come, first-serve basis. 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 Haefa Onaissi at 780-963-3535.

For more information about the Nature Kindergarten Program, contact:

Christine Ross
Director of Early Learning
Phone: 780-963-8406
Email: cross@psd70.ab.ca

OR

Haefa Onaissi
Support and Mentor Coordinator
Phone: 780-963-3535
Email: honaissi@psd70.ab.ca