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Creating a Nature Preschool

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Nature Preschool

The Environmental Nature Center (ENC) has been a part of the Newport Beach, CA community since 1972.  We are a landscape for learning, a sanctuary from life’s daily stresses, and a place of preservation and education. The ENC recently purchased a 1.3-acre property adjoining ours. Our vision is to expand our natural habitat, develop a nature play area, and construct our community’s first nature based preschool.

When our community learned of our plans to develop a Nature Preschool there was a deluge of interest! We continue to receive calls every day from parents wondering when our school will open and our online interest list continues to grow.  Thanks to organizations like the Natural Start Alliance and people like Richard Louv, families are beginning to understand the importance of hands-on experiences in nature for children.

The ENC Nature Preschool will be a nature-based early learning center, providing superior early childhood education in a stimulating and engaging learning atmosphere. It will connect students with nature and their world. Students will spend most of their time outside participating in hands-on structured and unstructured activities.  They will do everything they would in a traditional preschool – and more – only outside rather than inside.

The extensive planning process has our staff excited about a number of things, but we’re especially excited about having the opportunity to partner with the Preschool Teachers to provide the best possible experience for our students.  While Preschool Teachers help students develop a foundation for academic progress, our staff Naturalists will do what they do best – teach students about nature! Both Teachers and Naturalists will encourage spontaneous exploration while encouraging students to learn more about things of specific interest to them. Children will become more independent and self-confident as they develop practices of stewardship, sustainability and respect for the natural world.

We’re also excited to have the opportunity to start from scratch with a new structure at the Nature Preschool site. Although students will do most of their learning and playing outside, when they do spend time inside it will be in a sustainably built “green building”.  The ENC believes that the built environment should enrich the lives of our students as much as the natural environment. The ENC’s existing buildings are LEED Platinum certified by the US Green Building Council (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design).

Our learning center was the first LEED platinum certificated building in Orange County, CA.  Platinum certification is the highest designation available to buildings that demonstrate energy efficiency and sustainability. The ENC Nature Preschool will incorporate even higher levels of energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction and indoor environmental quality. LEED has a focus on human health that goes beyond any other building system.  The ENC Nature Preschool building will be full of clean air and sunlight and free of toxic materials and harmful chemicals.

At ENC Nature Preschool, our goals are for children to develop a foundation for academic progress, an affinity for nature, and an awareness of the interconnectedness of all living things as they grow and gain a lifelong environmental ethic.  During our planning phase we encourage questions and advice from our community. What would you like to see incorporated into our Nature Preschool and Nature Play Area?

The ENC needs funds to create the nature play area and build a Nature Preschool.  If you wish to contribute, please donate onlineDownload the Pledge Formemail us, or call our Director Bo Glover at 949-645-8489. All donations to our capital campaign will be matched by one of our generous supporters!

Check out our Nature Preschool board on Pinterest.

Check out our Nature Play Area board on Pinterest.

For more information about the ENC’s Nature Preschool visit encenter.org/nature-preschool or communicate directly with Lori Whalen, Education & Community Relations Director, at lori@encenter.org

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