Williams Lake kindergarten has great outdoors for classroom
'We’re really fostering independence,' teacher says 6 weeks into 'nature kindergarten'
A new kindergarten class in Williams Lake is seeing some real success in the classroom, its teacher says, although the class isn't a room at all.
Sylvia Swift is teaching the school district's first "nature kindergarten" which keeps kids outside all day to add a natural element to the lessons.
Kids don't sit at desks: instead, they sit on stumps. They go on walks and look for what's changing in the environment; they read and they build with wood among other activities.
"It's an adventurous day looking at learning within that kind of domain," Swift told Radio West host Audrey McKinnon. "We want to have these children to be who they need to be and play and learn through play. Play is best done outdoors."
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Swift is teaching nature kindergarten for the first time and says she wanted to do it so the kids could help direct the lessons.
They learn numeracy and literacy but tie it into nature and follow what they're interested in, she says.
The class is connected to Marie Sharpe Elementary, which is receiving grants from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to become a "wild school" and specialize in outdoor education.
"The transition for these kids [into Grade 1] will be easier because they'll still get to be outside," Swift said, adding the kids still go to the school on Thursday to use the gym and library.
As the days get colder, Swift says the kids will spend more time in the blockhouse building assigned to the class and will go outside "in bursts" in the afternoons.
Swift says parents are seeing their kids grow through the class.
"They're getting their coats on themselves without asking. It's not being done for them, because we're really fostering independence," she said. "They have to be in charge of their own things. We're in too many places too many times during the day, so it's really important for them to be responsible."
With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West
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