Using nature as a method to achieve educational results is a powerful methodology that builds upon the tradition of using the outdoors to inspire young learners. Positioning nature at the heart of curriculum stimulates creativity, arouses curiosity, and gives children a deep respect for the outdoors. Nature preschools and forest kindergartens are trending in the United States, and their progressive approach to education has fueled a rise in interest. Become part of this powerful, environmentally focused movement.
This degree is offered by AU New England.
The Nature-Based Early Childhood Education concentration trains teachers, administrators, and founders of nature preschools and forest kindergartens. The forest kindergarten movement has been thriving in Europe for the last three decades and has recently taken root in the United States. Simultaneously, there has been a growing number of nature preschools in the United States. Both nature preschools and forest kindergartens have a uniquely different approach to curriculum than conventional indoor early childhood programs.
The objective of the program, especially for the Professional Development participants, is to make the courses as practical as possible. Therefore, the goal for each course will be to have each student generate a product that is tangibly useful in his/her work situation. This will include program brochures, policy development, business plans, curriculum documentation materials a la Reggio, grant proposals and parent newsletters. Program faculty will provide assistance in content and tone so that founders of new programs can be supported in developing materials to launch their programs.
- 19 months, 5 semester, 33-credit degree program
- Low-residency program (primarily online, with 1-2 weeks on campus during the summer)
- 3 semesters of practicum work at your school or workplace
Core Courses: All Students must take the following courses (12 credits)
- Philosophy of Education and Change (can be online or on-campus)
- Developing Mind
- Practicum: Child Study
- Practicum: Equity & Change
Nature-based Early Childhood Curriculum – 7 Credits
- Business Planning for Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens (2 credits)
- Risk Management for Nature-based Early Childhood Education (2 credits)
- Working with Parents and Community (1 credit)
- Nature-based Early Childhood Curriculum (2 credits)
Electives – 14 credits, to be chosen from:
- Early Childhood Education Pre-K to 3rd (2 credits)
- Childhood and Nature (3 credits)
- Landscape Analysis and Design for Nature Play and Learning (1 credit)
- Natural History for Early Childhood (1 credit)
- Movement and Storytelling in the Pre-K Classroom (1 credit)
- Advanced Topics in Nature-based Early Childhood (credits variable)
- various courses in Elementary/Early Childhood or Experienced Educators Program