We love play.
We guard our children's free time for exploration.
When it comes to learning activities, we invite kids, rather than require them to participate. And yet, a majority of parents have reported that our program helped advance their child's academic and social skills, particularly language development and strengthened vocabulary. It was these successes that led to the 2023 implementation of our language immersion program.
When educators prioritize well, the results of even short periods of learning-focused time can be amazing.
Many of us recognize that early childhood is a sensitive time for the kinds of learning kids do through open-ended play, being in nature, and interacting with people. Balancing these activities is more art than science.
The outdoor classroom affords unique opportunities to enhance physical development. We spend time on varied terrain, giving the kids a chance to challenge their balance and physical strength climbing trees and hills, navigating over fallen logs, and splashing through creeks. We have also used rope swings, log swings, balance "beams," obstacle courses and slacklines to suit various learning themes.
Our learning activities are designed to be developmentally appropriate for pre-school age children. That means we focus on foundational skills: We cultivate a school environment that builds foundations for learning and life.
The most important goal we have is to nurture curiosity. We read books together every single day and typically explore a nature theme designed to draw the kids into a new way to use nature materials for play or a new curiosity about something in the natural world.
Besides the goal of developing intrinsic motivation for learning, our program aims to build the skills that are most important to begin early in life, like music, foreign languages, reading, and art.
Here is a sample of what a day might look like at Chickadee Hollow:
9:00 Gross Motor Movement/Free Play
9:45 Story Time
10:00 Art/Science Project
10:45 Music/More Free Play
11:00 Nature Walk
11:30 Field Study/Sensory Play
11:45 Return Hike