One of the best things about Michigan is the experience we have with the change of each season. In addition to outdoor recess in just about any weather, our Transitional Kindergarten class studies science and sharpens other skills while engaging in outdoor project based learning.
Through a valuable partnership with Ottawa County, our Early Childhood teachers plan their classroom curriculum to link up with Ottawa County naturalists and trips to local parks.
These off site nature learning experiences are ongoing throughout the school year. They provide fresh air and great physical activity, offer a shift in learning and teaches them how to explore individually as well as be part of a group. Students are learning to notice things, compare and think specifically about all their senses. Often the school year starts with timid students as they may be riding a bus for the first time and are given the freedom to explore and learn from the world around them.
The students’ curiosity and questioning skills shine through while they are discovering nature. Teachers are often able to better relate to students who struggle with traditional skills in the classroom. They may begin to count objects in the woods (ex: sticks or rocks), or use pre-reading skills while looking at maps of the different parks. They are enjoying themselves and grasping learning in an alternative environment. These trips also help deepen relationships between teachers and students providing helpful context for when they return to the classroom.
Our hardworking Jenison teachers aren’t afraid to engage learning on different levels for all students. As a result of this unique science program, these little learners have swelled in confidence and independence. No matter the season or the weather, excitement about these trips continues to grow, always looking forward to their next outdoor learning adventure.