We are so excited about the Blue Heron Preschool here at the Science Center that opened on September 13, 2010 and we would like to share this Union Leader article with you.
Union Leader, The/New Hampshire Sunday News (Manchester, NH)
New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
September 13, 2010
Preschool offers outdoors education
By ROGER AMSDEN
Union Leader Correspondent
HOLDERNESS -- It rained most of the morning as the Blue Heron Preschool, a nature-based Montessori early learning center and the state's first nature preschool, opened its doors yesterday at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.
But that didn't stop the three and four-year-old students from taking a nature walk after their late morning lunch.
Enthusiasm was high for the outdoors session on the part of the students, like four-year-old Laura Liebert of Ashland.
"I'm so excited. I just love it when it rains. I just go outside and jump, jump, jump," she said as she donned her boots and rain jacket.
The students followed Amy Yeakel, education program director at the science center, on a short walk into the woods where they stopped by a dead pine tree filled with holes drilled by a pileated woodpecker and answered questions about why the woodpecker was drilling the holes, which can provide both food in the form of grubs and worms and also serve as place of shelter.
Yeakel said the preschool will integrate two successful and innovative educational philosophies. The learning environment will apply the educational philosophies of Maria Montessori who believed that the early years, the period from birth to age six, is the time when a child's intelligence is formed, and when her or his natural curiosity and love for knowledge is awakened.
The second educational approach focuses on nature-based education with the goal of providing opportunities for children to interact with natural communities and living things on a daily basis.
She said that research indicates that daily, unstructured, outdoor play is essential to child development and that will be a big part of what takes place at the school, which it is hoped will become a prototype for other schools around the country.
"There are no swing sets and climbing bars in the play area. We're encouraging students to use the natural world and the things they find in it for play," said Yeakel.
Laura Mammarelli, director and lead teacher at the school, owned and operated the Montessori School of Plymouth for 10 years and is a founding officer of the New Hampshire Montessori Association.
She said that a typical day at Blue Heron Preschool will include group time with stories, music, games and discussion, snack, lunch, an extended work time in which where children are free to select and concentrate on appropriate activities in the classroom, and a substantial period outdoors with both unstructured time and facilitated activities.
"It was a good opening day. For many it's there first time ever in a school setting. They got to make new friends and share a sense of adventure with them," said Mammarelli.
She is assisted by associate teacher Jordan McDaniel, who has worked in early childhood learning centers for 10 years and is an advocate of outdoor education.
The school is open to children ages 3-6. The five-day per week program runs Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Enrollment is still open. For information, contact Amy Yeakel at 968-7194 x 14 or email.
Copyright, 2010, Union Leader Corp.
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