Every day we are astonished by the sense of community within our class. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise as our Nature Kindergarten’s beginnings stem from broad collaborative relationships with a broad range of community members. Also, the children are out exploring, connecting and experiencing various parts of their community every day.
Within the program, Lisa and I are focused on fostering a strong connection to our community and have community members out with the class almost on a weekly basis. These connections range from older “buddy” classes to local elders. It also includes plant, tree, fish and nature specialists, local college classes, first aid specialists, artists, retired teachers, early childhood educators, parents, and of course our class friend Werner who has an endless offering of knowledge and resources. The children have also visited the Goldstream Nature House and the library and have gone swimming at the community center. Often on windy days we won’t go into the forest and instead go on community walks or walk to the beach.
The past two weeks are a great example of how the program and community are intertwined. We recently participated in a wonderful presentation by “Growing Solutions” about the importance of growing food locally, which reinforced the importance of taking care of our class garden. This past week we had our Principal Maureen Lauren and parents out with us exploring. Also joining us one day was a grade four class from our school; together we built shelters and did a nature scavenger hunt. The kindergartens were so excited to share all they know with the older buddies! Later in the week we participated in a school wide beach clean-up, and learned how to curl from the Rocks and Rinks program! Ms. Muriel our Aboriginal Support worker brought her drum and taught us the Coast Salish national anthem. Then on Friday, as usual, we had Ms. Enid join us in our quest to be nature
detectives! Wow what a week we had!
This past Monday we had two parents out with us again in the morning, they went with us to explore at the beach. They helped us find seven red spiders, and also helped keep the swans from enjoying our snacks! Parent participation is very important to Lisa and I, and we feel so fortunate to be able to have to have so much parent involvement within the class. On Tuesday, we had Shirley a First Nations Elder come into the forest and teach us Sencoten. It was wonderful to have her with us in the forest; we learned the Sencoten word for bear, squirrel, eagle and how to count to ten. Thursday we visited our grade seven buddy class at the nearby middle school, Dunsmuir. They have visited us in the forest many times, and have built art, shelters, and done scavenger hunts. This time we had the opportunity to go to their school to make cedar book marks with them led by Linda and Terry Ermineskin. On Friday, we usually have the wonderful Ms. Enid join us, but this time we had Jeannie a professor at Camosun College join us for the morning.
We feel very fortunate to be able to have these connections with our community, and are so thankful for all the knowledge and support the community has given us.
(Written by Erin Van Stone, Nature Kindergarten ECE)