October 8, 2013

The Outdoor Classroom

Behind the preschool's play yard is an acre of land that BAPP owns for nature walks and other outdoor experiences. As a novel pilot program, they are offering an outdoor classroom during the months of October through April. Classes meets for 1.5 hours every Wednesday after the official preschool day ends, and are held exclusively outside in the rain or shine, snow or sleet. (No thunder or lightening!)

Like the rest of the program at BAPP, the outdoor classroom's curriculum is driven largely by the children's interests and explorations each day. I am told they will build dens and other outdoor structures, learn safety, pursue crafts like whittling, and who knows what else! I love that Roscoe will have the opportunity to observe the nuance of each season with a group of his peers.

Roscoe is obsessed with the animal kingdom and is especially fascinated by predator/prey relationships, and the myriad ways that insects and animals are equipped with unique protections and skills.
Roscoe shared this first-day-of-camp discovery with pride and glee
Roscoe and Merritt spend a lot of time outside and their knowledge of the animal world is very impressive and yet, as much as I encourage observation and respect for what we find in nature, I've noticed that neither of them has great empathy for insects or animals. They will smash a bug without a second thought. Destroy a spider's web, kick up an ant hill, or tear up an earthworm.

My hope is that, in addition to all the lovely experiences forest camp will offer to Roscoe in the coming months, the instillation of compassion and protection for the living things that we come across in our adventures out of doors will be a part of his education and growth.

Would you send your little guy or gal to an outdoor classroom?


  1. (I tried to comment before but I don't know what happened to it. If this appears twice, I apologize!)

    Absolutely! I think nature based school programs are amazing, especially for younger children. I wish there were one closer to where we lived so we could send our children! We take nature walks almost daily, collecting treasures or doing scavenger hunts.
    I wouldn't worry too much about the kid's apparent lack of empathy. I hate to say this because every child is truly individual, but I think that is sort of a common boy thing. We have the opposite problem here...every mosquito, ant, spider, etc, that makes it's way into our house has to be gently removed to the outdoors. I made the mistake of flushing an ant once and Lilah was beyond horrified. Let's hope that they are both able to find a happy medium at some point :)

    1. Nope, only came through once!

      I agree it is probably a part of their normal development, either way. I am aware that they do it but usually pretend to busy myself with other things because I feel like it must have some value to their process. Sometimes I personify the insects and things they are trying to obliterate, but the boys just do not care. I have seen Roscoe be very gentle and thoughtful with the critters in his classroom, so that is a step in the right direction. In your case, I imagine the other end of the spectrum can be trying too! They will all have normal empathy and compassion with time, I bet!

  2. This sounds like an completely amazing thing to have them do! I would have LOVED it as a kid and I know that the boys will too! Plus you get a little extra time to yourself! lol May be somewhat hard during cold rains and that type of wet weather but I'm sure it will be awesome!!


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