About our Approach
Direct experience in and with nature helps us all form place-based attachments. Our programs aim to inspire appreciation, nurture nature connection, and spark deeper understanding about how people can have a powerful, positive impact on our planet.
In our early childhood programs, children blossom into their own being through experiential, sensory-rich opportunities to grow and learn. We encourage inquiry, imagination, empathy, awe, gratitude, and respect for the natural world -- all of which are abundantly accessible through nature-based learning and play. Teachers co-create emergent curriculum to seamlessly weave emergent, seasonal experiences with intentional activities that nurture social, emotional, cognitive, physical, language, and spiritual development, unique to every child. (See our Guiding Principles below.)
Children grow roots in the community as they come to know the stories of our land, its keepers of the past, and the ways in which we can care for nature for generations to come. By working with people of all ages, Notchcliff Nature Programs sparks an expansive, intergenerational exchange of ideas that deepen bonds with the land and one another.
"Children are innately creative, marvelous beings. Children flourish with freedom to explore and play outdoors, especially alongside guides who give space, time, and support for these vital, and sometimes risky pursuits. Ultimately, nature-based education helps children become more deeply connected to nature and each other as they develop a strong sense of self identity, one leaf at a time. It is a lasting gift not only for each marvelous child, but also for our families, communities, and future generations of our world."
Our gratitude routines help children feel appreciated and express appreciation for themselves, family, friends, the larger community, and the natural world
We encourage meaningful connections with the natural world, help children understand they are part of nature, and that we can be be caretakers and changemakers
We honor young children as independent, capable thinkers who engage in child-directed learning every season and in all kinds of weather
Personal and Interpersonal Connections
We support children as they explore their identities, form friendships, develop trust with caring adults, navigate conflict, and deepen sense of place among the natural world
We dream, invent, engineer, and construct with natural materials to create meaningful artwork, stories, games, songs, and other creative pursuits; our focus is on creative learning processes, not end products
We embrace the ways children problem-solve, take risks, tinker, experiment, and explore ideas independently and collaboratively
Awe and Wonder
We cultivate curiosity and reverence for nature through emergent and experiential outdoor learning
We support risk-taking, active play, and exploration
We provide space and time to for children to notice, observe, and deeply engage in unstructured nature play and flow learning
We cultivate an understanding of the importance of our ancestors, elders, and first peoples at the core of the places where we live and learn
We welcome families, elders, and community members from all backgrounds and abilities to participate in learning experiences and nurture appreciation for the diversity found in our communities, ecosystem, and world