At Terra Nova Nature School the emphasis is on outdoor learning. Children will spend a large portion of their time outside, whatever the weather and throughout the year. There are many benefits to being outside, both physically and mentally. The outdoor environment offers unique opportunities for children to develop their gross and fine motor skills. By being outside, deep and meaningful connections are made to the natural environment. Ample blocks of time to engage with nature allow for quiet contemplation, as well as physical and group activities that develop social and emotional literacy. Traditional curriculum areas such as language arts, numeracy and science are readily learned in a meaningful context.
Whether indoors or out, activities at Terra Nova Nature School are project-based, which allows for in-depth learning. Children are encouraged to “look closely”, developing critical thinking skills that will be the foundation of their learning throughout their school years.
As the programs at Terra Nova Nature School are based on the principles of Reggio Emilia and emergent learning, the curriculum is ever changing and flexible. However, the outdoor world often creates curiosity around the following topics:
- gardening and farming
- trees, plants and edible wilds
- natural materials for creative expression
- the seasons and life cycles
- animals and habitats
- social history
- the elements (air, earth, fire, & water)
- living off the land and survival skills
These topics may be explored in partnership with other user groups of the Terra Nova parkland community: Richmond Schoolyard Society; Richmond Food Security; Richmond Nature Park; the Kwantlen Farm School; and the Sharing Farm. Opportunities to connect with elementary and secondary school students, seniors, and other community members will be nurtured and developed.
Subjects of interest are often explored in groups, so that children have multiple opportunities to engage in a collaborative and social setting. The ability to work with others, as well as independently, is a vital component of early learning.
The curriculum of Terra Nova Nature Preschool is structured around the four areas outlined in the BC Early Learning Framework:
- Well-being and Belonging
- Exploration and Creativity
- Language and Literacies
- Social responsibility and Diversity
Documentation and program development will be accountable to these four areas to ensure that our program is one in which children feel safe, secure and welcome, so that they may develop physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.
At Terra Nova Nature School, we value the participation of parents and other family members.
In the Owl program, we rely on parents to help once a month during class time with tasks such as assisting children with outdoor clothing; tidying the cubby area; cleaning the art studio space; and reading and playing with children. Parents benefit from being actively involved in their child’s education, creating a strong connection between home and school.
As well, we hold monthly evening meetings that are open to all Terra Nova Nature School parents. These meetings are an opportunity to share and discuss documentation of the children’s learning; read and review articles; or periodically welcome guest speakers to present on a variety of topics relating to young children and their education.