Nature-Based Preschool at ACS
ACS provides a nature-based preschool option for 4-year old students. God gives us so much evidence of Himself through nature that is around us. Children get this! If you spend any time with a child outdoors, they revel in a small wiggly worm, an acorn found on the ground, a small bug crawling on the tree, the mist of rain, or the feel of the breeze on their face. There is a quote that says, “As a painting reveals the existence of the artist, creation reveals the existence of the Creator.” Part of our job as believers is to take care of our world. In order to do this well, we need to understand and appreciate creation. One way we can foster this is to immerse our children in the outdoors. Exposure to nature has been shown to be critical to our physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual health. Research has shown that the outdoor classroom encourages creativity and problem solving, boosts academic growth, and fosters curiosity and wonder.
Nature-Based Preschool (NBP) daily connects children to the natural world around them – to the natural features around the beautiful 20+ acre Allendale Christian campus. In order to connect with their natural surroundings, the activities and explorations center around what is happening in nature and seasonally. These will guide the curriculum, the design of the outdoor and indoor classrooms, the methods used, and the curriculum content. NBP at ACS is driven by best practices from research and in consultation with state and local environmental education resources. One example is that we consult with the Outdoor Discovery Center in Holland. We are committed to excellence in education, which is developmentally appropriate for preschool students. The NBP Handbook can be found by clicking here.
A Typical Day in Nature-Based Preschool at ACS includes...
- Outdoor Play
- Large Group Meeting in the Great Beyond
- Nature Walk (Excursion) through God’s creation – including more than 4 acres of beautiful wooded space with trails
- Bible Story and a song
- Indoor Choice Time
- Large Group meeting (story, finger plays, theme development, Zoo Phonics)
- Small Groups
Curriculum and Standards used for the Nature-Based Preschool
Allendale Christian’s NBP will follow Michigan’s Early Childhood Standards of Quality, which are approved by the Michigan State Board of Education. The specific curriculum components will come from the following:
- Creative Curriculum for Preschool
- Zoo Phonics
- Resources from the Outdoor Discovery Center and other sources that specialize in Nature-Based Education
- Social skills will be taught and guided by Love and Logic, which is used school-wide.
ACS will partner with the Outdoor Discovery Center as a resource for NBP. The Discovery Center also partners with the upper grades at ACS to help implement effective nature-based opportunities for ACS students.
Pictured below are snapshots from the outdoor classroom, which is one of the areas dedicated to Nature-Based Preschool. This is in addition to nearly four acres of wooded space, including a learning platform, trails, a bridge, and much more. Students also have an opportunity to learn in a nature-rich classroom space.