Michigan Outdoor Preschool Catches National Attention

Outdoor schools. I have seen many articles about these popping up all over the world recently. The concept is actually quite simple; have lessons outside, rain or shine. And it is an educational method that is rapidly gaining popularity, especially in early education settings like preschool.

One nature preschool in Michigan was actually included in an article by the New York Times in December 2015 which also included similar schools in Washington, California, and Massachusetts. The Chippewa Nature Center in Midland has held an outdoor nature preschool since 2007. Their goal? According to their website, the program “fuses early childhood education with environmental education to develop a child’s lifelong connection to the natural world.” Sounds pretty great to us.

Here is a full article which focuses on the Chippewa Nature Center’s program from the Midland Daily News so you can learn more about them.

Local nature preschool catches national attention

JESSICA HAYNES jhaynes@mdn.net, Midland Daily News

Original article here

Jan 1, 2016

chippewa nc

Midland’s Chippewa Nature Center is getting some nationwide attention in an article by The New York Times headlined “Preschool Without Walls.”

The article discusses the recent popularity of early education classes being held outside and in nature and references Chippewa Nature Center’s nature preschool three times.

The Times says that the trend of nature preschools is growing, up from 20 schools in 2008 to 92 schools in 2013 “that deliberately put nature at the heart of their programs, and where children spend a significant portion of each day outside.”

Read the article here: http://nyti.ms/1PzzHvx.

The Chippewa Nature Center’s preschool program started in 2007 and now operates from the Margaret Ann Riecker Nature Preschool Center, built in 2009. According to the center’s website, the program “fuses early childhood education with environmental education to develop a child’s lifelong connection to the natural world.”

In the Times article talks about some programs like the Chippewa Nature Center that work with surrounding school districts and mentions its partnership with the Bullock Creek School District.

The Daily News reported this summer the district received a $496,000 grant from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Family Foundation to expand the district’s nature-based kindergarten program into first grade at Floyd Elementary. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1IGTQP1.

Dick Touvell, executive director of the Chippewa Nature Center, said inclusion in the Times article was flattering but not surprising.

“From the beginning of CNC’s Nature Preschool eight years ago, parent and community feedback has been outstanding, and as a result, the program has seen remarkable growth,” Touvell told the Daily News.

That growth can be linked to Rachel Larimore, the center’s director for education, who worked to establish the pilot program and wrote a book about the process to inspire others to think about nature. Touvell said the center is proud its program, under Larimore’s leadership, has played a role in the rising popularity of such programs.

“In my opinion, the establishment of CNC’s Nature Preschool has been quite a success story that has impacted many families throughout the area and helped foster the growth of other programs throughout the country,” Touvell said.

Chippewa Nature Center is located on 400 S. Badour Road in Midland, and features 15 miles of trails on over 1,200 acres and a visitor center with exhibits, a wildlife viewing area and classrooms used for lectures and workshops to get residents in touch with nature.


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