Augusta, GA (WJBF)- In the CSRA, preschool and kindergarten students spend a lot of time in a classroom. But a local private school has different ideas.
Episcopal Day School is using part of its 38-acre campus on Flowing Wells Road for a Nature school. Preschoolers and Kindergarten students in the program spend more than 75 percent of their time outdoors– rain or shine.
There are tent-like structures on the property called Yurts where they spend a small part of their day.
Head of School Ned Murray said the program teaches students the same concepts as a traditional school, but in a different manner.
“When you take that same knowledge and information and learn it in the natural world, and observe it in the natural world, and apply it to real world problems in the natural world, now you’ve established context. Now it has meaning, it has usefulness and you retain it longer,” explained Murray.
One of the first things students learn is safety. Being in the woods all day, they are bound to run into all kinds of wildlife. Murray said the teachers, who are specially certified to teach nature school, make sure the kids know what they can touch and what to look at from a distance.
Murray said this type of learning isn’t just for preschool and Kindergarten. It is carried out throughout all EDS grades.
“At the same time we’re developing this school for preschool and kindergarten, all of our classes, pre-k through 8 who are on the main Walton Way campus, come out here as well for the same kind of learning. So, we’re infusing this kind of hands on, real world application of learning through all EDS grades.”
Murray said when they researched nature schools, they discovered that students who participate in these programs tend to outperform their peers both academically and behaviorally. They also found that nature Pre-K and Kindergarten students have to learn self-management and boundaries because of the nature of the outdoor environment.
He told NewsChannel 6 that the Nature School Pre-k program for the next school year is already full and they have had to open up another Kindergarten class.
For more information on EDS’s Nature School, CLICK HERE.