What is Nature Kindergarten?
Scout Island Nature Kindergarten is a full-day program of choice which takes place at Scout Island Nature Centre. Children who are adaptable, flexible, enthusiastic, able to follow directions well, cooperative, have no problem getting dirty and love to be outdoors in all kinds of weather will be best suited for this rigorous program.
Who Can Take Part in this Program?
Any child who resides within School District #27 boundaries and who will turn 5 years old by December 31st of the school year can participate in this program, if space is available. Since the Nature Kindergarten is affiliated with Marie Sharpe Elementary, families outside the Marie Sharpe catchment area will need to complete a School of Choice application. To find out if your child will be suited to this program, please attend one of the information sessions listed below.
Registration Step 1 : Attend an information session.
To ensure the greatest success for the children in this program, parents must attend an information session if they are interested in registering their child in this program. These sessions will allow you to develop a better understanding of the Nature Kindergarten program, and what it will mean for your child and family. This is the only opportunity to get an application form. Sessions are TBA
Both sessions will cover the same information. A family member must be present to receive an application form. Application forms will only be available at the parent information sessions.
Registration Step 2: Register at your catchment area school beginning TBA but no later than March 15, 2020.
Take the completed Nature Kindergarten application form and a completed School of Choice application form (if out of Marie Sharpe catchment area).
- School of Choice applications are date and time-stamped (First Come First Served)
- All forms must be complete. Application forms must be initialed and signed by a parent to be considered complete. Only completed application forms will be considered. The process for completing application forms will be reviewed at the parent information sessions.
- A wait list will also be allocated. Students will be accepted off the wait list if a space becomes available.
How Will I Know if My Child has a Space?
Parents of accepted students will be notified no later than April 15, 2020. At this point, their child will be officially enrolled in the Scout Island Nature Kindergarten program and their child will no longer be enrolled at any other school.
General Information on Nature Kindergarten
To enroll in Nature Kindergarten, parents must do the following:
- Attend a parent meeting in January (Date TBA). If a parent can’t attend, they can arrange to have another family member come in their place. They should contact Calvin Dubray to arrange this. Posters will start circulating in November with dates, time and place of these meetings.
- If a student is not in the Marie Sharpe catchment, they fill out a school of choice form and hand this in with their Kindergarten registration form.
- Student selection – students are enrolled in Nature Kindergarten based on when their application is handed in. Parents should ensure their applications are date & time stamped by the secretary at their catchment school.
TRANSPORT TO SCOUT ISLAND
Nature K students are bussed daily between Marie Sharpe and Scout Island. Every elementary school in the Williams Lake and 150 Mile House catchment areas have a bus that stops at both the catchment school and Marie Sharpe, so parents never need to drive farther than their child’s catchment school. Bus supervision at Marie Sharpe starts before any Nature Kindergarten student arrives.
TIME AT MARIE SHARPE
Nature K students spend half of every Tuesday at Marie Sharpe learning how to use the library, manage themselves in a large school with students up to Grade 6 and get experience in the gym and on the playground.
Transition to Grade 1
TRANSITION TO INDOOR CLASSROOMS
Like all Grade 1 students, Nature Kindergarten students practice following directions, managing themselves and their materials and being respectful of their teacher, classmates and other school staff. The main difference is Nature Kindergarten students have more to take care of as far as clothing and school materials than a typical Kindergarten student as they spend a lot of time outside in various weather conditions. They have several areas that they regularly use as their classroom, including the indoor classroom, the Nature House, Aspen Place and various locations around Scout Island and our community. This builds exceptional independence, flexibility and sense of responsibility in our students.
Like any Kindergarten class, students come to Nature Kindergarten with different levels of school readiness and progress to the best of their ability throughout the year. We have no evidence to date that students in Nature Kindergarten have a higher or lower rate of meeting curriculum expectations than other Kindergarten students in the district. Some students may enter Grade 1 with lower skills in a particular subject or struggle socially more than the average Kindergarten student, but this occurs across the district and is not higher in Nature Kindergarten.
Nature Kindergarten Program
The Nature Kindergarten program is modeled after the Sooke Nature Kindergarten which was developed in conjunction with Royal Rhodes University. Both Sooke Nature Kindergarten and ours continue to be supported by Dr. Enid Elliot from Royal Rhodes University. Both programs follow the BC Kindergarten curriculum meeting the Language Arts, Math and other parts of the Kindergarten curriculum as do the rest of Kindergarten classes in the province.
In addition to meeting the regular BC Kindergarten curriculum, our Nature Kindergarten is the only Kindergarten program in the district where students are intentionally given the opportunity to engage in the 6 recommended thrilling/risky types of play. These types of play have been shown to build resilience in students which research shows reduces occurrences of anxiety and depression as children grow into adults. It has also been shown to reduce symptoms of ADHD, improve social skills more than indoor time and has a greater impact on healthy physical development. The categories of thrilling play children are given the opportunity to engage in are 1) play at high speeds (sliding, biking, running) 2) play at great heights (climbing trees, fallen logs, etc.) 3) rough and tumble play (wrestling) 4) play with dangerous tools (hammers, vegetable peelers, hand saws) 5) play around thrilling landscape features (water, ice, hills, rocks) 6) play with the perceived opportunity to get lost (Brussoni et. al., 2015; Sandseter, 2007; Sandseter 2011).
ROUGH & TUMBLE PLAY
We are especially excited about the growth we have seen in our students through rough and tumble play. In addition to strengthening student’s ability to regulate strong emotions and read their peers body language, we have seen both male and female students regularly ask each other for consent to engage in various types of rough and tumble play. They have developed confidence in letting each other know what they want, where their limits are and how to express themselves when they change their mind, are scared, angry or having a lot of fun.
If you would like more information on the research that has informed our incorporation of these activities in Nature Kindergarten, check the following publications and websites. I also encourage you to investigate research done by Marianna Brussoni from the UBC Department of Population Health and Ellen B. H. Sandseter from the Department of Early Childhood Education at Queen Maude University in Norway. They are both global leaders in early childhood development and advocate for the incorporation of thrilling/risky play in Preschool and Kindergarten.
Children enrolled in Nature Kindergarten not only get the opportunity to do the majority of their learning through outdoor, experiential learning, they benefit from the expertise and diversity of teaching present in the staff at the Scout Island Nature Centre. Scout Island Nature Centre staff and volunteers frequently support the Nature K teacher and ECE with natural history knowledge and experiences. Nature Kindergarten has had numerous visits from Tŝilhqot’in and Secwepemc knowledge keepers and participated in Bike to School Week two years in a row.
If you or parents/guardians you interact with have any questions, please contact us or share our contact information with them so they get the most current and accurate information. If you would like help facilitating any of the previously mentioned activities, please contact Frances McCoubrey.
Principal: Calvin Dubray firstname.lastname@example.org
Teacher: Kirsten Hamm email@example.com
Early Childhood Educator: Tanya Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
Outdoor Education Resource Teacher: Frances McCoubrey email@example.com