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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Everyone Benefits

Here at NBNC we are now fully immersed into a new year, new snow, new friends, and growing enthusiasm of the work we do with teachers in public schools. ECO, Educating Children Outdoors, began the new school year in five area schools. Our teacher naturalists work with 25 teachers on a biweekly basis getting their students outdoors to learn. That's about 320 students immersed in the local ecologies surrounding their schools. We asked teachers to take a moment to reflect on the gifts and challenges of getting out the door with a classroom full of curious minds and wriggling bodies. Here is a response that sums up the experience of children learning in a space with no walls and the sky and trees overhead.

When has the experience on an ECO day been most beneficial for your class?

  I can’t begin to choose a “most beneficial experience.”   There is the sense of independency  that children are gaining as they learn to care for themselves, others and their environment, the sense of wonder  and curiosity they bring to the woods and their explorations, and then there is the “We’re all in this together, “ community-building that is occurring.    Some children love the time just “being” in their sit spots, others are energetically creating tools out of sticks, logs, rocks, and other things found, and yet other children have become so excited about animal tracking that they are asking their parents to look online for more videos about tracking and taking them outside to search for “a story.”     Learning to carve, roasting apples or cooking bread on a stick, building rock cairns by the brook, lugging wood up to the base camp as a team, learning new tag games that support the learning about animals, life cycle and food chain, watching an adult build a fire to warm our hands and feet by, making “gifts” for the animals that visit our sit spot, and reflecting on our learning with the use of journals, are all things to be cherished and continued with children as we move through the rest of the year.    I guess the most beneficial experience for my class is that there is something for everyone----individual interests are honored and children are able to engage with their interests.  There is a great deal of planning that goes into this by the NBNC folks, and this is coordinated with classroom teachers with reflection/planning meetings  and emails after each session.   The planning is a guide, and allows for individual children to branch off from the general lesson and incorporate their own explorations.  - 1st/2nd grade teacher


That sounds like a day of school not to be missed!

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