The Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children
Smith Memorial Playground
are partnering to create one of the nation's first Urban Nature Preschools!
Nature Preschools have a uniquely different approach to education than conventional indoor programs. Guided by their teachers, children drive the exploration and activities based on their innate curiosity in nature. An inquiry based curriculum encourages children to observe, share, record, test ideas, solve problems, make predictions, and think critically. Scientific research shows there is a critical link between time spent in nature and play and healthy child development. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, writes:
At the very moment that the bond is breaking between the young and the natural world, a growing body of research links our mental, physical and spiritual health directly to our association with nature.
Now, more than ever, dedication to time spent outdoors is essential for children.
Smith and DVAEYC have begun the planning process...
In the summer of 2014, we launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the planning process. Our goal was to raise $10,000- when the campaign ended, we raised over $13,000! While this will not cover the entire cost of the planning process, it will show larger funders that the community is invested in the Urban Nature Preschool and believes it to be an important and valuable addition to improving early childhood education in Philadelphia.
Interested in learning more? Check out our video, featuring Meg Wise, Smith Memorial Playground Executive Director, and Sharon Easterling, DVAEYC Executive Director.
The preschool will be located in unused space in Smith’s historic Playhouse, but will use the surrounding natural area as the primary focus of learning activities. The high quality early learning program will serve children and families from the surrounding neighborhoods like Strawberry Mansion. The school will function as a “demonstration” school for area teachers to observe best practices in early childhood education, and we will partner with a local research university to study the effectiveness of the program.
However, the space earmarked for the indoor classrooms needs serious renovations.