Beginning September 2016, a new preschool aged program is being offered to the community. Beyond 4 Walls is a Forest School inspired program that runs for children ages three to four. Running Tuesday and Thursday mornings, participants will find themselves immersed in nature for the entire three-hour session. On June 17, Beyond 4 Walls hosted an open “house” for parents and toddlers who are either enrolled or on the waitlist. This is one of the many programs Outdoor Connections now offers to children and youth in the Elk Valley.
This informative session took place at Mt. Fernie Provincial Park at one of the proposed program sites beside Lizard Creek. Parents and toddlers attended with a keenness to learn specifics about the program. This included the 13 Forest School Principles and how to best dress and prepare their toddler for their wilderness classroom. Thanks to the ongoing support from Mountain Equipment Coop, every toddler participating will be provided with a MEC Newt Rain Suit – a very fitting “school uniform” in the form of a one piece splash proof layer.
As explained on the Forest School Canada website, “Forest School is different from other traditional learning experiences in two ways. First, Forest School takes place in the same setting on a regular basis over an extended period of time. This gives students the opportunity to learn a great deal about the area and enables them to develop a lasting connection with nature. Second, while there are some structured elements, the Forest School curriculum is largely emergent, child-directed, and play-based. There is also a strong emphasis on educators observing, learning with, and teaching students in the context of the environment. This process of observation allows children the space and opportunity to delve into various activities and experiences guided by their imagination, rather than explicit external direction.”
After completing the Forest School Practitioner Training, Sinead Murphy and Courtney Haeusler have assumed the facilitator role for Beyond 4 Walls. Both Courtney and Sinead are certified teachers within School District 5 who are committed to alternative forms of education.
As Outdoor Connections evolves and begins to offer more programs, the founder of Outdoor Connections, Haeusler, is excited at the amount of interest and support for these types of programs.
Living in a mountain town, like Fernie, it’s no surprise many families value active outdoor learning opportunities.
For more information about Beyond 4 Walls and other outdoor programs visit Connectoutdoors.ca. If you would like to get involved or support Outdoor Connections in any way please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.