Our Teaching Practice
As educators, we find ways to support natural learning and behavior, and we provide a variety of opportunities in which this may happen. Appletree School is located in close proximity to the ocean, beach, strawberry fields and we are pleased to be in our immediate setting with woods, meadows, gardens, and a large frog pond. We utilize these spaces as our outdoor classrooms where nature based learning brings discovery, risk taking, exercise, fun and the opportunity to expand one’s view of the world.
The play-based curriculum and nature education at Appletree is all about valuing wonder! When a child feels safe, respected and attached to the adults in their world they will feel free to be themselves. Our job is to create an environment where children feel happy and confident to be just who they are just on that day. Play and the freedom to play, is how children will learn about their friends, about nature and about themselves. We are able to create an environment to explore in the outdoors with no set adult agenda. The teachers watch children and listen to children. When a teacher knows what to look for, they will see and hear the learning. We value cognitive, physical and social emotional learning along with literacy and STEM learning. We do not see them separately but see the child and our teaching practice as a holistic approach.
When children wonder about flowers growing, that is not just a unit/lesson on plants but a whole season of watching, nurturing, exploring, drawing, dancing and singing about growth... there is no end to “topics”/ “studies”. Oftentimes in life, it is the adult that gets tired of the sandbox or the activity but the child is not done
with their exploring, and we see that our job is to stay with the activities. You can be close by listening and inviting deeper investigations with open ended materials. We provide access to loose parts: planks, pine cones, acorns, leaves and stumps, and we notice how the environment is another teacher. The teacher is fully interested and finds delight in the growing child and the environment. When a teacher models joy in something such as the guitar or singing, the children will see the joy and feel the joy. Then they will begin to love music.
In such a noisy busy world we want to create an environment where children hear birds, see changes in weather, feel the wind, touch the green moss.. to greet the day with enthusiasm... and think, what will happen today?