Image of the Child
We view children as capable, resourceful, imaginative, intelligent, and inquisitive beings who are most comfortable in the natural environment.
The Value of Relationships
We believe that relationships are the keystone to any learning community. We value time spent learning about each other and appreciating the things we share, as well as our diversity. Children have a natural affinity to nature, and we believe that fostering a relationship with nature promotes lifelong learning and interest.
Role of the Teacher
Parents and teachers encourage the children’s natural learning process and are partners with them as they learn. In our environment, the role of the adult shifts from purveyor of knowledge to that of a learner alongside the children. The teacher’s role is also that of a researcher and resource guide, lending experience and expertise to the children. Together we develop an awareness of the important role nature plays in our lives.
Environment as our Third Teacher
We value open-ended materials. Natural materials, recycled scrap materials, and a wide variety of tools are available to stimulate creativity and investigation.
The Importance of Nature
We provide an opportunity for children to explore the natural playground in our community. Research suggests that through regular contact with the natural world, a child’s affinity to – and love of – nature grows, and a positive environmental ethic is cultivated. Children are encouraged to develop an appreciation for the beauty of the natural world and our responsibilities related to its preservation.
Time is Flexible
Children thrive in an environment where there is a harmonious flow of time. We will provide extended periods of time for working in areas that are important to us, creating an atmosphere that encourages learning and in-depth studies. We will adapt to the natural pace of the children, allowing them to explore their interests to the fullest.
The Many Symbolic Languages of Children
Children will be encouraged to engage in activities inspired by nature and natural materials. They will be given many opportunities to represent and express their ideas, and use their imagination to make their learning visible.
Making Learning Visible: Documenting and Reflecting on Learning
Experience alone is not enough to promote learning; it is only through reflecting upon experience that true learning takes place. Extensive documentation of the learning process for both adults and children encourages us to provide opportunities to revisit and reflect. The process of documentation itself supports our inquiry approach through observation, reflection, collaboration, interpretation and analysis. To do this we keep a forest journal which will be posted on our Saplings Blog, as well as a monthly newsletter for the parents.
The West Vancouver community and the wider natural world serve as both our classroom and teacher. We seek opportunities to become involved in the community, to make our work visible, and to welcome experts to share their knowledge, skills, and passions with us.