Nature-based early childhood education programs take an immersive approach and put nature at the heart of the program. At Azalea Montessori, we offer Azalea Outdoors, a program where nature is the setting for children’s exploration and learning. We help children cultivate a love of the natural world and through this love children then learn to respect and care for their environment and all the living things that inhabit it.
At Azalea Outdoors we spend time at the Children’s Garden growing and planting various fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. We also learn to handle, feed, and care for the resident chicken flock. Time is spent at Upper and Lower Millcrest Parks exploring the fields and trails, creating with natural loose parts, learning about maps, identifying and gathering safe wild plants, tracking animals, reading and telling stories, and having adventures. We also spend time at the Virgina Coffey House natural playscape. There we play games, create art, and make snacks from natural materials. Some examples are mud finger paint, leaf collages, berry paint and pine needle paint brushes, weaving with found natural materials, herbal sun tea, and cooking in a solar oven that the kids help build. The curriculum is child-led.
Time spent in an outdoor nature-based early childhood program has immense benefits for children:
- Reduced stress
- Enhanced communication
- Improved academic performance
- Increased physical activity, motor development, and endurance
- Ability to identify and manage risks
- Opportunity to build self awareness and confidence
- Resilience and adaptability during adverse conditions is developed
- A love and appreciation for all living things and an understanding that all life is connected
Azalea Outdoors is a part of the Azalea Montessori School. It is structured so that one group of children at a time spend a week participating in the program. Groups rotate on a weekly basis. The time spent outside will be daily from 9-11:30. Children must be enrolled in Azalea Montessori School to participate in Azalea Outdoors. Azalea provides weather appropriate outdoor gear.