“If we want children to flourish to become truly empowered,
then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it”
Miami Nature Playschool programs are designed to positively connect young children with nature through immersion programs that stimulate their innate curiosity about the natural world.
We believe that children need to spend significant time outdoors, and that simply by being in a safe and nurturing community environment children
Our philosophy emphasizes several major themes:
1. We actively promote child’s individual empowerment, self-awareness and group bonding.
2. We continuously model respect for all living beings.
3. We assist the child lifelong learning skills and strategies, like problem solving, risk awareness, risk assessment and facing challenges in a safe environment.
4. We believe that there is great therapeutic value in just “being” outdoors, rather than always “doing” in the outdoors.
This therapeutic benefit is important to young children as they learn positive ways in which to manage their emotions.
5. Being in nature also leads to higher levels of cooperation and teamwork resulting in building positive social skills and supports peer-to-peer communication.
Several key principles distinguish Miami Nature Playschool program from regular preschools and other outdoors programs:
“Total commitment to nature immersion regardless of the weather or season. Nature immersion is defined by Erin Kenny as “unstructured free time in nature, resulting in an intimate, deep and personal connection to the natural world”
Nature immersion leads to a suspension of linear time and a sense of timelessness in our hurried lives, which is necessary for creating bonds in place, self and living beings within the space. Close contact with nature contributes to young children’s motor, sensory, social, emotional, moral and cognitive development as well as a child’s physical health and mental well – being.
Nature allows children to find their own rhythms when spending long times outdoors.
Interest-led (child-driven) flow learning
When children become interested and excited about something their sense of wonder leads to hunger for knowledge about that subject. Deep learning takes place when children are engaged in something that interests them and that is relevant to them.
Habits for happy children
Many teachable moments for the life arises spontaneously, based on the weather, the season, and our daily nature finds. We can learn about life thru nature and part of our goal is to help children to build their own values, principles and leadership skills on a natural way since a young age.
Place-based education in a permanent location
Young children’s sense of place and belonging stem from their direct interactions with their immediate community: the people, places, flora and fauna around them. They can feel rooted, connected and involved, leading to caring for their own home environment. Children also develop a sense of emotional security and learn that there are specific places in nature where they feel comfort and can calm themselves.
Inquiry-based teaching style
Asking open ended questions for which there are really no wrong answers elicits conversations through children’s own explorations and encouragement to express ideas, they learn to trust their own observations and discover there is more than one answer to any question. This strategy leads to more divergent thinking and greater problem-solving skills.
Positive reinforcement approach
We want to encourage positive behavior rather than accentuate misbehavior. Young children tend to gravitate towards activities that get them attention and reprimanding a child often gets poor behavior to continue. Children feel self-pride when they are noticed and complimented for qualities such as helpfulness, generosity and kindness.
Emphasis on individual empowerment and group bonding
We want our children when growing to recognize both, their own worth and abilities and those of others. Competition is prevalent in our world, pitting us against each other. The Forest Kindergarten model values cooperation and teamwork and a sense that we can accomplish more when we work together (peers). We also want children to develop the ability to be comfortable on their own but we also respect that some children need time to develop their own understanding and may wish to work by themselves.
Respect for others, self, and the living earth.
Living harmoniously with others makes for a more peaceful world. Treating ourselves with gentle kindness and respect flows outward and results in the ability for higher compassion towards others. Seeing ourselves as an integral part of the natural world leads us to want to protect and preserve all aspects of it.
Recent research shows young children learn best through direct hands on experience and through play, music and art, all the things that stimulate imagination and creativity.
Exposure to moderate risk
Children exposed to moderate risk received fewer injuries because they are encouraged to develop their own risk assessment and response skills. Children develop self-confidence through facing challenges successfully and by learning how fall and pick themselves back up.