Canada’s first public outdoor kindergarten is challenging the traditional classroom.
At Toronto’s Equinox Holistic Alternative School, children in the outdoor kindergarten program spend the day outdoors learning and playing, regardless of the weather forecast.
“We believe that children should be moving and learning in a kinaesthetic way. They embody what they are learning better,” Sandee Waite, a teacher at the school, told CTV’s Canada AM Thursday.
The school was founded in 2009 through the support of the Toronto District School Board. It follows the Ontario curriculum, but uses nature and inquiry-based learning as the foundation.
“When the kids are outside, it allows them to have space and materials in nature they can interact with,” said Waite.
The school also attempts to keep their program largely oral. “We talk, tell stories and when the children come across something, we observe and examine it,” said Waite.
The concept, called “nature kindergarten” has flourished in Europe with more than 700 schools in Germany alone.
While this is Canada’s first outdoor school, similar programs have been introduced in the B.C. communities of Maple Ridge (the Environmental School Project) and Colwood (Sangster Elementary School).
Equinox wants to transition to a full-day kindergarten in September. The school started a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo so they can do a complete overhaul of their space to support the transition.
Their goal is to raise $75,000.