Sunday 3 January 2010

2009 – A Review

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Teacher Tom said...

I'm so glad I've found your site! I have a question.

We are an urban preschool, with a small, but interesting outdoor space. I've been inspired recently by the outdoor school movement and have been seeding my parent community with the same enthusiasm.

Most of what I read about involves schools with immediate access to large tracts of nature. Can outdoor schools work in urban environments?


Juliet Robertson said...

Hello Tom

I could say the same about your blog - it's so enthusiastic and informative.

You are correct in that almost all outdoor nurseries have good access to a decent natural area especially in other countries.

Here in Scotland, we acknowledge the value of this and the reality of many settings. We tend to encourage all pre-schools to use their nearest greenspace even if that's simply a park or shelter belt or a small patch of ground.

Interestingly even in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley which is a VERY urbanised area, studies have demonstrated that the majority of schools and pre-schools are within a 10-min walk from their establishments. This may not be pristine or wild but still better than a rubber surface and a colourful fence.

Two references to follow up are the Forest Kindergarten Pilot project in Glasgow & the Clyde Valley. This is the link If you wanted to get in touch with Karen Boyd whose details are on the website, then I know she would answer your queries. There are ten urban pre-schools involved.

Next, we have an awesome pre-school called the Cowgate Pre-5 Nursery. This is run by Lynn McNair and is an outstanding example of what a very urban pre-school can achieve with limited space and busy roads, etc.

Both of these projects are different to the nature pre-schools I've visited and read about in North America. I was lucky to visit one in Seattle. Nature Pre-schools appear (and I could be mistaken) to value a daily walk or excursion into natural places. The philosophy of outdoor nurseries is much more holistic. There is no formal teaching at all.

Teacher Tom said...

Thanks for such a complete response and links!

We do have a park within easy walking distance, but we're probably going to have to go with more of an "outside" school than a "nature" school approach. I'm to have a proposal/discussion paper done today with a goal to start implementing changes by the end of February. I'm very excited. I'm sure I'll be using you as a primary resource!

Juliet Robertson said...

Hi Tom

If it's any help, please do contact me via my details on the bottom of every page. It may be that there's resources or information we can share.