Image: Nature Preschool

While some schools are moving entirely online, the Chippewa Nature Center is doing things a little differently and moving entire outside.

It’s the 14th year of the nature preschool, but this is the first year it will be almost 100% outside.

“The funny things is, it won’t be that much different for our children,” said Madison Powell, the preschool director. “They’re very used to learning outside. They’re used to being out in all weather.”

Yes, even Michigan’s cold winters.

“As long as the children have proper gear on, they’re not the ones complaining about weather,” said Powell.

Nature Preschool has a five-star rating on the Michigan Great Start to Quality rating system. It’s one of just here out of 122 childcare providers in Midland County.

“When it comes to COVID-19 and all of the preparedness plans and all of the research that we’ve been doing through the summer and the things that we’ve learned, even since March, we know that open air learning is a very strong system for being able to keep children safe,” said Powell.

You may be wondering what all of the preschoolers do. On a daily basis, they’re hiking in the woods, to ponds, and to fields, and to the homestead farm and that’s just the beginning.

Along with hiking, the program provides discovery-based learning using first-hand experiences with nature, classroom materials and relationships with peers and adults.

“When I saw it in action, and saw how well the children were learning, I was changed forever,” said Powell.

Copyright 2020 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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