Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy
partners with Natural Curiosity
One of North America's largest all-day kindergarten schools opened it's doors just one month ago in Toronto, and throughout the 26 classrooms and almost 700 young students one thing is evident: Environmental Inquiry is everywhere. School Principal, Catherine Ure, shared her fundamental beliefs about children in the outdoors, and offered us her thoughts behind why she chose Natural Curiosity as one of the school's foundational pillars of pedagogical framework.
"Essentially, our environment is everything to us. We aren’t structures and buildings, indoor and enclosed environments; we are part of the natural world. Our curiosity about learning, about life, about who we are, comes from being outside. For any child, [being outdoors] is real life. The ground they walk on, digging in the dirt, getting to know trees, touching and smelling their environment, seeing the sky, getting rained on, and feeling the sunshine. You can’t get those kinds of sensory experiences from an indoor environment...By having the children spend a great deal of their time outside, they’ll come to the classroom with the experiences that they need to have conversations to consolidate and extend their learning.
The structure of [Natural Curiosity's] four branch framework and the examples given, makes it very clear to teachers how productive being a part of the program really is. But Natural Curiosity is more than a program – it is a philosophy, a pedagogy, a concept of how children learn, and how we can learn along with them."
Naila Ahmed, an Early Childhood Educator with over 15 years of teaching experience, believes that the relationship between teaching partners - collaborating, sharing ideas, and reflecting on what can be done more effectively - will continue to benefit the students in their journey through inquiry.
“When children interact with their natural environment they learn best. If we can create and be in an environment appropriate to their developmental age, combining our professional knowledge effectively, and scaffolding their learning where needed, they can do far more than we could ever imagine. Children will always exceed our expectations."
Whether it is building knowledge about trees, theorizing about the life cycle of Monarch butterflies, dissecting a sunflower, or exploring outdoor space, students at Fraser Mustard have already begun to engage with their natural world. We look forward to working closely together with staff and students in this upcoming year.