Notes from the Naturalist: The Nature Preschool at HCMA


As we welcomed our friends back for our second week of Nature Preschool, we were pleasantly surprised to see how well each student settled in to our beautiful space on the wooded edge of the Slim Baker Lodge.  The joy of week two was not lost on us!  Celebrating the small successes can sometimes be overlooked, yet they are so important.  So many small moments of success were present before us from smooth drop-offs to friends expressing kind words and hands. 

Today was filled with so many different activities! From Fairy House building, riding imaginary “horse” sticks, to looking at pine cones and needles – we certainly had a lot of fun!  At some point I happened to ask Teacher Kasia what she was doing and her response was perfect: “following the child”.  As educators and moms we recognize the importance of the holistic approach to teaching. Understanding that informal, play-based learning creates the foundations for all that comes next – may it be reading, math or just socially acceptable behavior, is key for this age group.    

I sat with a Tree and Shrub book open on my lap and before I knew it, I had several friends interested in the pictures before them. Another child brought over a pine cone – whereupon she successfully matched the cone to the picture belonging to a White Pine (Pinus strobus).  From there, they wanted to search out and find the five vesicle needle form belonging to the White Pine. Just think about the subjects covered today: math, science, reading, art and all while following the child. Success!

 As fall starts to embrace us and summer slips away, now is a great time to talk to your children about making observations. As our friends become more comfortable with the surroundings of their school and being safe and kind with their friends, we will dive more into learning about the natural world around them. This is a great opportunity to talk about the differences we see in the trees, the weather and the wildlife. So if you are out for a walk, take the time to point out and ask your children questions about the world around them.

“It’s important that adults allow children both the time and the space to play outdoors on a daily basis. It’s important that we give them the trust they deserve and the freedom they need to try out new theories and play schemes”. – Angela Hanscom, Balanced and Barefoot