The Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids has announced they're opening a nature-based preschool this fall. Here's what that means.

The new Cedar Rapids preschool is going to have its three and four-year-old students spending a lot of time outdoors. A press release from the Indian Creek Nature Center points to numerous research pieces that show kids benefit now only from playing outdoors, but also from learning and exploring the great outdoors, as well. To that end, the new Creekside Forest School will follow these concepts:

  • Children will be outdoors between 30 and 70% of the time, learning in the context of nature.
  • The main curriculum will be centered around nature with teachers using learning through hands-on discovery and play, based on quality practices.
  • The course of study will be based on the interests of the kids and happenings in nature at the time.
  • Nature will be involved in reading materials, activities for small groups and even materials from nature itself will be utilized.
  • While helping to prepare kids for kindergarten, teachers will plan lessons toward the interests of children in the class with social and emotional development considered equally.
  • The indoor classroom will be used mostly when the weather won't allow them to be outside.

Indian Creek Nature Center Director of Education Kelli Kennon-Lane says,

As a leader in quality environmental education, we feel it is our duty to offer an alternative model of early childhood education: one that gets children off a screen and into fresh air. Where learning looks like play, children have the power of choice and the teachers are facilitators of learning, not directors. Our preschool program develops the whole child — physical, social, emotional and cognitive — and prioritizes the child’s emotional and social development equally with academics.

The Creekside Forest School will be limited to 26 students in total, with morning and afternoon sessions offered each weekday, beginning in September. You can get more details and fill out an application for your child HERE. Virtual and in-person open houses start in February with private tours also possible.

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