Nature-Based Kindergarten

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Parkland School Division's Nature Kindergarten program is currently based out of Muir Lake School, where children from all over Parkland School Division are offered a unique curriculum-based authentic learning experience primarily within a dedicated woodland classroom and the surrounding outdoor area. This optional kindergarten program-of-choice gets children active and in touch with nature, while essentially extending a child's kindergarten experience from half-time to full-time in the process.

In keeping with our Ultimate Goal of Student Success and Well-being, PSD's Nature Kindergarten program provides meaningful student engagement while addressing the kindergarten curriculum, as children spend the majority of their day outside connecting with local habitats as inspiration for their academic learning. Nature Kindergarten nurtures independent, confident and resilient learners with a zeal for problem solving, fostering children's physical literacy and lifelong health and well-being through outdoor adventures that contribute to the social and emotional assets of individual health.

2021-2022 Virtual Open Houses

The Nature Kindergarten Program has two upcoming virtual information sessions planned for prospective families.

Date: Wednesday, February 24 or Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Time: 5:30-6:30pm
Location: Online Webinar via Google Meet

Attendees will join Nature Kindergarten teacher Tracey Gilmour as she presents:
  • A full overview of the Nature Kindergarten program
  • How a typical Nature Kindergarten student spends their day at school
  • Answers to frequently-asked Nature Kindergarten questions

Families will be able to see the full scope of the program, ask any questions they may have and evaluate if Nature Kindergarten is a good fit for them and their child(ren).

2021-2022 Registration

To apply to the 2021-2022 Nature Kindergarten Program, please complete and submit a 2021-2022 Nature Kindergarten Application Form. This form will begin accepting applications when Parkland School Division 2021-2022 Registration opens on February 8, 2021.

Please note: Your child must first be registered for a recognized Alberta Kindergarten program before they can be registered in the Nature-Based Kindergarten program. Complete information on the registration process can be found on our Registration page. Priority shall be given to Parkland School Division students, but out-of-division applicants may be considered if space and resources are available.

2020-2021 Registration

The 2020-2021 Nature Kindergarten Application Form will continue to accept applications for the current school year as long as space remains available in the Nature Kindergarten program. Please use the correct form when submitting your application: the 2020-2021 form cannot be used to apply for the 2021-2022 school year.

Program Key Elements

  • Research demonstrates that experiences in nature are beneficial to all areas of development
  • This opportunity is one solution to all day EVERYDAY quality programming for kindergarten children in PSD
  • This is an excellent learning opportunity for all kindergarten children
  • Children will continue in their community kindergarten classrooms as per the PSD Kindergarten calendar, attending Nature Kindergarten on alternating days (e.g. if a student attends regular Kindergarten on Monday/Wednesday, they will attend Nature Kindergarten on Tuesday/Thursday, and vice versa).

Outdoor Adventures

This early years enrichment opportunity will allow children to spend the vast majority of their day outside engaged in meaningful ways with their body, mind and spirit while located in a natural setting. These students will continue with their current Parkland School Division kindergarten programming within their respective community schools.

Working as a group of adventurers, nature-based kindergarten children will be given additional outdoor opportunities by Parkland School Division to be self-directed through their own curiosity and exploration. Using multiple natural learning environments, children will develop confidence in their own abilities to investigate and to collaborate outdoors and within their natural environment. Children will be physically active and engaged in movement skills that will facilitate their balance, stamina and strength.

Certificated Staff

Children will be supported by trained, certificated staff who use an emergent curriculum in addition to a risk management plan to include activities and learning experiences that occur outside. In order to ensure an optimal environment for the children, a teacher and educational assistant will be available to support the kindergarten students.

Location

The program is based at Muir Lake School, where the site offers students access to open meadows, a natural beaver pond, an outdoor woodland classroom and an indoor learning space.

On Fridays (weather permitting), classes will travel to other nearby nature spaces, including the Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area and Muir Lake Day Use Area, to expand their exploration. 

Nature Kindergarten educators consult the forecast regularly, and weather-related safety is considered in all decisions (e.g. how far to venture away from the outdoor classroom, how long to be outside, etc.). In cases of extreme cold (-23ºC or below, including wind chill) or extreme heat (+30ºC or above), staff will limit students’ length of exposure and constantly assess the children’s comfort and safety (watching for signs of frostbite, hypothermia, heat exhaustion, etc.). The heated outdoor classroom and dedicated indoor space with washrooms ensure that learning can safely continue in such conditions.

Fees

Fees for the Nature Kindergarten Program are included in the Parkland School Division Fees and Allowances Schedule for 2020-2021 as approved by the Board of Trustees at their regular meeting on March 10, 2020. The fees for the program have been set at $6,000 or $600 per month. Nature Kindergarten fees are charged on a cost-recovery basis for the program. The fees will offset costs that include:

  • Instruction from a certificated teacher
  • Support from an educational assistant
  • Bus transportation from either Spruce Grove or Stony Plain congregated stop locations.

Transportation

Parents participating in the Nature Kindergarten program will be responsible for taking their children directly to the congregated bus pickup/dropoff locations in Spruce Grove or Stony Plain. Pickup/drop-off locations and times will be communicated to families over the summer.

Waiting List

We will strive to accommodate everyone interested in registering for this program on a first-come, first-serve basis. We will be keeping a wait list in case of cancellations or if we get enough registrations for an additional class. If you are interested in having your child on our wait list, please call Muir Lake School at 780-963-3535.
 

For more information about the Nature Kindergarten Program, contact:
Muir Lake School
Phone: 780-963-3535
Email: muirlake@psd70.ab.ca