Winter nature class: alphabet, snowballs and birdsong

Our collaborator interviewed a preschool teacher, who explains why she adopted the outdoor classroom as a teaching practice.

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Our collaborator interviewed Stéphanie Tardif, preschool teacher at Charles-Rodrigue school in Lévis. She explains why she adopted the outdoor classroom as a teaching practice.

Ms. Stéphanie is passionate about education and the outdoors. Nature, she grew up there, she takes full advantage of it and wants to give it to her preschool students. For several years, the toddlers in his class have mostly been learning outside, from back to school until the hot end of year days, even in cold spells and snowy days!

Why? Because she believes in it and sees how this proven pedagogical approach has a positive impact on her students. She is not alone: more and more teachers across the province are following suit, and making the nature classroom a way of teaching and learning every day.

A marked improvement in several skills

Throughout the outdoor activities offered to her students, Ms. Stéphanie sees that they develop a great ability to collaborate, in addition to improving their social and conflict management skills. They demonstrate more autonomy, wonder, full awareness of the environment around them.

“At the beginning, when I asked the students what they heard, they answered“ cars ”now, they exclaim“ Madame Stéphanie, I heard a bird! ". It creates rich interactions between the students, me and the surrounding nature! "

Simplify parenting decisions related to clothing

To enjoy being outdoors, especially in cold weather, you must of course be comfortably dressed. The issue of clothing is therefore very important in the management of students and communications with parents. A few tips from Ms. Stéphanie: inform families at the start of the year of the importance of multilayers, also remember that a change of clothes is a must, give each parent a visual “thermometer” indicating the prescribed clothing according to the felt temperature.

“We must explain, but above all simplify parental decisions related to the clothing of their children. This is the key! "

The important thing in winter, Ms. Stéphanie reminds us, is to move! “We are in action, we walk in the neighborhood, we take advantage of urban parks. Children climb, slide, build forts and shelters. We sometimes take breaks inside to eat the snack, warm up a bit, change wet mittens, then go outside! "

Curriculum in kind

Ms. Stéphanie integrates the learning from the curriculum into the natural environment. Notions like learning the alphabet, for example, are done by tracing in the snow. We practice ascending or descending order using snowballs or branches. Ms. Stéphanie advocates listening. “I leave room for what emerges from the children, I answer their questions, I leave room for the natural integration of learning into action. The all-white winter landscape is a wonderful canvas for symbolic play, creativity and imagination. As a teacher, I have to be more flexible and creative in my approach while having certain educational objectives in mind. "

“I leave room for what emerges from the children, I answer their questions, I leave room for the natural integration of learning into action. The all-white winter landscape is a wonderful canvas for symbolic play, creativity and imagination. As a teacher, I have to be more flexible and creative in my approach while having certain educational objectives in mind ”.

Ms. Stéphanie is aware of the impact of the natural deficit on our young people. It is therefore committed to promoting respect for the environment and the pleasure of enjoying our natural spaces and our resources. His passion is definitely contagious: other teachers from the school team follow his example and also explore nature pedagogy with their class groups, to the delight of all!

“Although there will always be a need for some paper and pencil type activities in the office, the nature classroom is accessible to everyone. Teaching outdoors means making learning authentic and concrete for young people. You just have to believe in it, love being outdoors, summer and winter, and be ready to adapt to the reality of your environment! "

For further :

Consult the thematic guide The outdoor classroom in response to COVID-19 of Carrefour education.

Also watch a upcoming training in the CréaCamp series Discovery of the École branchée, or this one in replay on demand! 

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About the Author

Annik De Celles
Annik De Celles is a teacher by training. After more than 15 years in the field of education at the secondary level, she has an entrepreneurial sting and founded her own company in the agri-food sector that she operates, while teaching part-time, until 2016. In 2017, Annik leaves teaching to become general manager of Septembre éditeur. She uses her passion for educational issues, the world of books and entrepreneurship, in addition to getting involved in various organizations. Annik is the author of 3 healthy cookbooks and 2 practical guides in entrepreneurship.

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