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Campbell River school makes sure no child left inside

Outdoor play opportunities counteract students’ ‘screen time’
Ecole des Deux Mondes teachers are making use of the forest near the school to put into practice their belief that outdoor play is beneficial for children’s development.

The Ecole des Deux Mondes French Immersion Kindergarten teachers believe in the important role nature plays in the development of young children and are putting that belief into practice with successful results.

Teacherse Barb Vachon and Desiree Dallaire feel fortunate to have a forested location on their school property and they take full advantage of it to give the children a unique and authentic educational experience.

They value the time their students play in the school’s forest and see the experience as beneficial in numerous ways.

Vachon noted the children have been visiting the forest since October and have had the opportunity to observe seasonal changes.

To illustrate this, in the fall the students explored the fallen leaves and found many Western Maple seeds and now the students are finding the same seeds with tiny green sprouts growing out of them, Vachon said. This has been a cause for much excitement and a perfect way to teach French vocabulary for words to do with the forest, seeds, compost, seasonal changes, the weather, etc.

Currently, Vachon and Dallaire bring their students to play and learn in the forest a couple of times a week. Having witnessed firsthand the learning opportunities the forest offers their students, both teachers intend to spend an hour a day in the forest, rain or shine come September 2014.

Both Vachon and Dallaire gathered further inspiration for this idea from fellow teachers in School District 72 as well as from established nature Kindergarten programs from across Vancouver Island and beyond.

There are many developmental benefits from spending time in nature which are backed up numerous research studies.

Increasingly, children are spending too much time in front of screens and it seems like their childhoods are being hijacked by technology.

According to  Richard Louv who is the author of the best selling book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, “If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy. It’s a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it’s even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it’s a lot more fun.”

Did you know that children who play in the forest are more likely to become adults who are environmentally aware and environmentally responsible?

Deep learning takes place when children are touching trees, building forts, listening to animal calls, and leaving their toys behind to play imaginatively with sticks and stones.

While playing in nature children are exposed to many areas of the Kindergarten curriculum including science, social responsibility, physical education, dramatic play and oral language.

Young children learn best from direct experience and they understand the world through play.

Providing children with a natural outdoor space they bring their playing and learning to a different level.

At Ecole des Deux Mondes we are reserving time every day for our students to play outdoors in nature where they can run, explore, climb, find secret hiding places, dream up stories and just be children.

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