Friday, 27 March 2015

Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario (ADCO) Writes About Our Forest School

It was wonderful to have our new Forest School Kindergarten featured, and on the cover, of the Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario (ADCO)'s magazine recently. I enjoyed speaking with the author, Andrea Hannen, about forest schools and our experience at Discovery Child Care, here in Barrie.

Here is an excerpt of the article, "Discovery Child Care Launches Simcoe County’s First Licensed Forest & Nature School Kindergarten", and a link to read the full article in a PDF.

Discovery Child Care Launches Simcoe County’s First Licensed Forest & Nature School Kindergarten [by Andrea Hannen]

"This fall, long-time ADCO member Discovery Child Care in Barrie opened the first licensed forest and nature Kindergarten program in Simcoe County. There are only a handful of early learning forest schools available to Ontario families, but demand for this time-tested and holistic pedagogical approach is growing rapidly Canada-wide.

 Internationally, forest schools began to appear in the 1950s. There are more than 700 of them in Germany alone. Generally speaking, the children attending a forest school spend a least half of each day outdoors. In many cases, the children are outdoors 80% to 90% of the time. Woodlands, greenspaces and other outdoor areas provide the settings for a forest school, but a key component is repeated access to the same outdoor space, so the children can observe the natural cycles of the seasons and the local environment.

The activities that happen in a forest school vary, depending on the season, climate, landscape, animals that have visited the night before, trees that have blown down in the wind, and the kinds of provocations elicited by the educator. Forest school programming incorporates a wide variety of learning activities facilitated by various forms of play, such as ; symbolic play, creative play, exploratory play, rough and tumble play, fantasy play, dramatic play, social play and imaginative play. “Almost any kind of programming that we can do indoors, we can adapt for the outdoor environment,” says Karen Eilersen, RECE, owner/operator of Discovery Child Care.

Eilersen has nearly completed the Forest School Practitioner certification, a process that takes considerable time and effort. It requires one to be a certified teacher or Early Educator and to complete a five-day intensive training sessions, eight months to a year of at-home course work, followed by a series of practise sessions in the forest. Forest School Practitioners are certified by Forest School Canada.

 The Discovery Forest School offers Barrie-area families a legitimate and licensed alternative to regular kindergarten. It follows the Ontario Early Learning Framework, Continuum of Development, so despite its many non-traditional elements, it ensures children are well-prepared for grade one. Discovery’s Forest School program, which runs daily from nine until noon, is taught by two Level 3 certified Forest School Practitioners and two classroom teachers. The program maintains a one-to-four teacher/child ratio while in the forest and a one-to-eight teacher/child ratio while in the indoor/ outdoor classroom."

Contact us today for more information about our Forest School program!

About Discovery Child Care

Barrie Based Discovery Child Care brings nature into the classroom and takes the classroom into nature, offering an environmentally aware foundation of early learning for children, from infants to school-age. We follow an Emergent Curriculum philosophy which means, your child will be provided with hands-on, play-based learning opportunities that will encourage active exploration, autonomy, choice, problem solving and plain old fun! Your child’s individual interests, abilities and needs will be considered when planning our indoor and outdoor programs. For more information, visit http://www.discoverychild.on.ca

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