Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook
A New Kind of Resource
The Natural Start Alliance is proud to share a new kind of resource, one designed to unite diverse models of nature-based education—from outdoor schools to forest kindergartens to nature-based preschools—and become a platform for the sustained growth of standard-bearing programs. The Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook represents the combined expertise of professionals across the field of nature-based education, and describes how nature-based educators offer programs that are safe, effective, and inclusive.
Whether you'd like to get a better sense of the practices in general, are ready to dive more deeply into a specific area like teaching or administration, or simply want to purchase the Guidebook itself, you can find everything you need relating to the practices here.
Recognizing both the benefits of nature to education, and the benefits of education to nature, many early childhood education programs use nature and natural elements to enhance the curriculum and promote environmental stewardship. They might plant a garden or put up a bird feeder, for example, to offer more opportunities for children to experience nature as a part of the program.
A nature-based early childhood education program takes an immersive approach, putting nature at the heart of the program. In a nature-based early education program, nature is a setting for the program and an object of study. In addition, the care and protection of nature and the environment are regarded as a key outcome of the program, along with healthy child development. Some describe these nature-based early education programs as learning in nature, about nature, and for nature. Download the introduction to the Guidebook to dive into more details of nature-based education for young children.
The Guidebook is an essential resource for teachers, administrators, parents, policy makers, licensing agents, or anyone who needs to know how nature-based education professionals operate programs that are safe, effective, and inclusive. Although the practices are focused on programs serving preschool-age children (ages 3-5), the practices are relevant to programs serving early elementary students or infants and toddlers.
The practices are organized into four areas of practice: teaching, environments, safety, and administration. The links below will give you an overview of each of these focus areas, and include a summary of the practices in each area. Full details on considerations related to each practice are available in the Guidebook.