I've been a fan of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center for a long time, so I was thrilled when they agreed to tell me a little more about their popular Nature Preschool program for this special blog post.
Here are 12 reasons why you (and your child!) will love the Nature Preschool at Schlitz Audubon:
1. The children take daily hikes.
Preschoolers at Schlitz Audubon enjoy daily hikes throughout the 185 acres of the nature center, visiting ponds, prairies, forests, and the Lake Michigan shoreline.
2. The children have their own garden.
Children learn about plants by planting and maintaining their own vegetable and flower gardens.
3. Up to ten hours a week are spent outdoors. (Take that, Netflix!)
Kids in the Nature Preschool spend up to ten hours a week exploring and playing outdoors. Your child will reap the benefits of all that outdoor time, including:
-Stronger critical thinking skills.
-Reduced anxiety and symptoms of ADHD.
-Empathy and respect for nature and people.
-Lesser likelihood of developing allergies.
4. Nature comes indoors.
Natural materials like pinecones and soil become classroom tools, and children help care for classroom animals including toads, salamanders and turtles.
5. There are three outdoor play areas.
Kids get access to the entire nature center, including three outdoor play areas.
6. Science is taught through the seasons.
Children learn about science through exciting seasonal events such as maple sap collecting and evaporation in spring, observing the life cycle of trees throughout autumn, and visiting the ice formations on the Lake Michigan’s winter shoreline.
7. The children learn to identify birds.
Don't be surprised if your child can identify birds by sight and sounds after attending preschool here. After all, birds sing to them on their daily hikes!
8. Imaginative play is encouraged.
Children are encouraged to experience nature creatively. In one morning the same stick can become a writing tool, a magic wand, and part of a child-sized teepee.
9. The children discover wild animals.
Children discover wild animals such as owls, turkeys, turtles, deer, songbirds, and butterflies. They also have access to the 17-bird Raptor Program.
10. Early reading skills are developed organically.
Children are introduced to early reading skills in an organic way that is highly sensory; drawing in the sand and mud, reading trail markers, and forming letters with sticks and rocks.
11. The children develop empathy for nature and people.
A nature-based curriculum is really something special. Students learn to share, work cooperatively and be part of a team through working together every day. Children build long-lasting friendships and connections. It's no exaggeration to say that it inspires future stewards of the natural world. Find out more about nature-based curriculum here.
12. Kids get to be kids.
At the Nature Preschool at Schlitz Audubon, kids are allowed to be kids. They catch frogs, discover insects and worms, and explore the natural world. They're given time to play, create, experiment, and imagine both indoors and out.