The Philosophy of Nature's Way Preschool
At Nature’s Way Preschool, we foster a caring and positive atmosphere in which children can learn. As we bridge the gap from home to school, we offer opportunities for children to connect with nature while developing the needs of the whole child. Through exploration and hands-on activities that are both child-centered and teacher-directed, we introduce social, emotional and physical skills as well as language and math competencies. Theme- related activities emphasize the process rather than the product and foster a sense of accomplishment.
Based on the theory that children learn through play, classroom routines encourage active involvement, meaningful experimentation, and reinforcement through repetition. Schedules are designed to balance structure and free choice as well as active and quiet times. We recognize that children advance through developmental stages and we treat each student as an individual who works through each stage at their own pace. Through the love of learning, we allow children to experience their own stage of development and help them to feel success without pressure.
We value the involvement and support of our families in the program. The connections that we make with each family member are important links in creating shared experiences which ultimately foster the development of our school community. By respecting the individuality of the students and their families and by celebrating diversity, we develop a nurturing community which thrives on its successes and contributes to the development of the whole child.
Nature's Way Preschool History
Since 1982, the Kalamazoo Nature Center’s offsite preschool program, Nature’s Way Preschool, has been connecting young children and families with nature. Originally housed in a one room log cabin, Nature’s Way Preschool is one of the longest running environmental preschool programs in the nation. In 2011, the Kalamazoo Nature Center built our new facility, expanding our enrollment to 128 students. The stone fireplace from the cabin remains on the property as a reminder of our original school. Current families enjoy school campfire nights around the fireplace. Students enjoy daily hikes on 30 wooded acres, including a beautiful wetland area along the west fork of the Portage Creek.