In September of 2012, St. James & St. Ann’s School embarked on an exciting new adventure – Outdoor Kindergarten. Based on the principles embraced by many European countries in their “forest” schools, our Outdoor Kindergarten removes the walls from the classroom as the children learn in the natural environment. We were the first Catholic school in BC to implement an outdoor program.
The best classroom has no walls
St. James and St. Ann’s Catholic School (SJSA) has nurtured and educated children for more than 30 years. With Jesus Christ as our centre, the parishes, teachers, and parents work closely together in love and prayer to create a joyous and challenging place of learning.
Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, we enhanced our kindergarten program with an outdoor education component. Outdoor or “forest” school began in Germany and has spread throughout Europe. In North America, innovative preschools are moving outdoors along with pilot projects in various BC school districts. Ours was the first Catholic school in BC to implement outdoor education.
In a generation with diminished time to play outdoors and frightening levels of childhood obesity and diabetes, outdoor school is the answer to a brighter future. Children at SJSA will learn, explore, and exercise as they develop emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Our school, surrounded by the Fraser Valley’s majestic mountains, is perfectly situated for outdoor education as it is bordered by ample playing fields, Discovery Trail, Gardner Park, and nearby Fishtrap Creek.
Important Program Information:
- The kindergarten students will spend a minimum of two hours per day, rain or shine, in the outdoors, including recess and lunch.
- Routines and expectations will be set early with the students to ensure safety, and to maximize the learning opportunities and enjoyment of the outdoors for all the children.
- Each student will be required to have a rain jacket with a hood, rain pants, rubber boots, and gloves. In the winter, warmer clothing will be required.
- Supervision of the students will be ensured by school personnel as well as parent volunteers who have completed criminal background checks.
Learning the meaning of creation in our daily lives will help us to live holier lives. It will fill the world with the spirit of Christ, the spirit of justice, charity, and peace.
Listen to the sermon preached to you by the flowers, the trees, the shrubs, the sky, and the whole world. Notice how they preach to you a sermon full of love, of praise of God, and how they invite you to glorify the sublimity of that sovereign Artist who has given them being.
Play connected to a child’s natural environment is vitally important for healthy development. Outdoor play and exploration during childhood creates a lifelong connection to nature while developing creativity and imagination.
Children who play outside are more likely to:
- become excellent problem solvers,
- treat the environment and others with respect,
- develop an interest in science or related fields,
- be more physically active throughout life, and
- grow into adults who are environmentally aware
Active, experiential learning opportunities in nature foster critical thinking and apply to all areas of the kindergarten curriculum:
- Religion—outdoors is the perfect location to learn about Creation and develop a relationship with the Creator
- Language Arts—while exploring the outdoors there are many opportunities to use oral language, which is the foundation of reading and writing success
- Science—describing and comparing local plants and animals
- Social Studies—identifying characteristics of the environment
- Math—exploring numbers, patterns, and relationships while learning about shapes and space
- Fine Arts—dance, drama, visual arts, and music occur naturally (and sometimes spontaneously!) outside
- Physical and Health Education—engaging in games, exercise, and discussion about the world around us and healthy lifestyle choices