BGCSC expands pre-school outdoor pilot program

The Rewild Your Child Nature Program is set to kick-off for the fall in just over one week and the Boys and Girls Club of Strathcona County is hoping to have a full roster of kids getting back to nature. Photo Supplied

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A pilot program that proved popular in the spring is becoming a mainstay at the Boys and Girls Club of Strathcona County.

The Rewild Your Child Nature Program is set to kick-off for the fall in just over one week with the hopes of having a full roster of kids getting back to nature. The program initially ran for six weeks in May and June and both morning and afternoon classes were full. Now the program will extend into a full-fledge 12-week program with a full-day option, starting on Sept. 16.

“We had fantastic feedback from it and parents wondering if they could register their child again and the board then approved us for full-time programming starting in September,” explained Monique Lozeron, Boys and Girls Club of Strathcona County nature program coordinator.

The local Boys and Girls Club’s Rewild program is a bit different from other pre-school or day care programs because it is focused on getting the kids outdoors and learning about nature. Photo Supplied

Aimed at kids ages three to five years old, half-days run from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and the full-day program runs from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The half-day program costs $150 per month or $450 for a 12-week session and the full-day session is $200 per month or $600 for a 12-week session.

“That is a big deal in Sherwood Park and Strathcona County because Elk Island has full-day kindergarten now and we are offering our program either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday, so two times a week,” she said, adding it helps to fill in the days when kids need activities or someone to watch them.

The program differs from other pre-school or daycare programs because they are really focused on getting the kids outdoors and learning about nature.

“We have a framework instead of a curriculum and with that everything will be based on the season and will be mostly outside,” Lozeron said. “Kids who are signed up to come for all three sessions will get to experience seeing the outdoors and seeing a space going from summer to fall to winter and then back to spring and that is a really big thing for kids nowadays to get back in touch with the land we’re living on and back in touch with the seasons.”

Most similar pre-school programs don’t really allow the kids to get dirty and explore the way Rewild Your Child does. The program allows kids to play how they want to with a mud-kitchen space and a building station that includes logs, planks and stumps.

“We have all these things available to them and they show us what they want to do with it in this space and we change our program and adapt based on that. It is very child-led and as teachers, we facilitate the program. We let the kids and group show us what they’re interested in and what they want to delve more into and we make sure we can go more into it,” she said. “They use their imaginations, they get dirty, all the kids are really dirty at the end of the day, and we go based on what they want. We do adventures and it is all about social play and getting along and taking a little bit of risk, which is a bit different than a lot of the pre-schools around here.”

Lozeron explained that the kids in the program do learn the ABCs and 123s but they also allow the kids to discover nature and find interests they love. There are two staff members that teach the kids each day and there are different parent volunteers on-site participating as well.

With space still left in the fall program, interested parents are encouraged to attend an upcoming open house on Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at 3 Spruce Avenue in the gym. The next 12-week ReWild Your Child program will run concurrently from January to June.

tdosser@postmedia.com

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