Nature Preschool holding classes outside during winter

Nature Preschool at Chippewa Nature Center in Midland is in its 14th year.

This is the first year, however, the preschool will be almost 100 percent outside.

The weather wasn’t going to deter any preschoolers from putting on their thinking caps and getting their hands dirty.

“We started in September and we’ve been outdoors ever since,” said Madison Powell, Nature Preschool director.

The preschool has been on break since mid-December.

The school returns to class on Jan. 25, back to the outside classroom, where COVID-19 hasn’t been much of an issue.

“Being outdoors is a huge advantage for us, when we talk about the guidelines and some of the things that we’re really worried about indoors, we’re not as worried about those things when they’re out breathing clean, fresh air,” Powell said.

Of course, nature preschool has spent more than a decade having class outside.

Powell acknowledges the COVID-19 pandemic may have pushed their future plans into full speed.

“We have been working toward being more outdoors over the last several years," Powell said. "This is just another big push to make that leap and go fully outdoors."

For the nearly 115 kids who participate on the 1,500-acre lot, the weather seems to be the least of their worry.

“They are smooth sailing, they are extremely great at adapting and overcoming,” Powell said.

Like anything, there are challenges. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, parents don’t have the ability to be as hands-on, as in years past.

“That’s something that we have put a lot of emphasis on in the past and we absolutely love partnering with parents. That has been pretty difficult going through COVID,” added Powell.

We know that hope is on the horizon, now that vaccine distribution is taking place across the country.

Powell said staff at Nature Preschool are eligible to get the shot.

As more people become vaccinated, the better the opportunity to get back to programs they missed.

“Having camps this summer, which we didn’t get to do here at the center last year, that was really hard. We are very much looking forward to continuing programming, getting kids outdoors, and being able to do all the stuff on our property,” Powell exclaimed.

When kids return to Nature Preschool, they’ll be able to utilize indoor shelters as warming stations to either grab a snack, change into dry clothes, or gear up for more outdoor activities.

Registration is currently open, just head to the Chippewa Nature Center website.

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