At Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool, nature is our classroom, and the sticks, pebbles, and leaves we find become our learning tools. Our hands-on, nature-based education ensures children will be successful in kindergarten and beyond by helping your child to develop a sense of cooperation and empathy, respect for nature and people, and grow physically and cognitively.
Research has shown that when academics are pushed on young children before they are ready, the test-taking skills they may gain in the short term do not last, and their anxiety and stress levels sky rocket. We believe, and the evidence supports, that children in the preschool years learn best through play, including math, literacy, art, and science. We explore each of these concepts in age-appropriate ways, indoors and outdoors, through play, discovery, and joyful experiences.
How we teach early childhood literacy
There are many ways to introduce literacy to children. Providing language-rich environments in which adults and children talk to each other, and in which reading and writing is incorporated seamlessly into play, are among the most effective.
In our program:
We provide opportunities to browse books about nature
We create patterns in the sand with our fingertips to practice writing
We speak to children using complex language and science words
We read signs in nature
We study trail maps
We create mud-kitchen menus
We identify words and letters in the Center, on the grounds, and in nature
We make reading and writing a daily, organic, and authentic part of our play
How we teach early childhood math skills
Mathematical concepts are all around us. The more authentic and real-life math is, the more meaningful it becomes to young children. As with early literacy, we make mathematical concepts a daily part of play and exploration.
In our program:
We count turtles on rocks, butterflies on flowers, and birds at the feeder
We count six legs on insects, eight legs on spiders, four legs on chipmunks, and one foot on slugs
We subtract water from sugar when we make maple syrup
We measure sunflowers, wingspan, and tree circumference
We weigh pumpkins and gourds
We look for circles, stars, and hearts in nature.
We study the shapes of snowflakes
We track the amount of rainfall in our rain gauge
How we get your children ready for Kindergarten
In order to be ready for kindergarten, children require a solid foundation beyond the academics. This means developing physical coordination, social competence, empathy for others, and a rich and active curiosity.
In our program:
We take hikes every day to build muscles, balance, endurance, and strength
We pick up acorns, logs, sticks, pebbles,
We balance on logs, climb trees, and dig in the sand
We do yoga poses together.
We take care of the animals in our room
We take care of our classroom and play spaces
We give the children time to solve problems and conflicts
We learn about migration and hibernation
We explore puddles, ponds, and the Lake Michigan shoreline
We learn about animal tracks.
We learn about insects, frogs, turtles, owls, and songbirds
We make nature an integral part of our lives, every day, throughout the year
To learn more, join us for Nature Preschool Sneak Peek on Saturday December 14 from 9:00am to 11:00am. Get a feel for a typical Nature Preschool day while spending time in our outdoor play spaces, meeting a live animal, exploring the trails, and more!
We will also host The K4 Paradox: A Conversation with Parents and Teachers on Tuesday, November 12 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. Join us for this panel discussion about nature education and the kindergarten experience. This conversation will cover information about academic expectations for K4 and K5, the value of emotional resilience, and other relevant topics.