Although Grand Rapids Public Schools and Blandford Nature Center have been partners for many years, Blandford Nature Center now gives young learners an early start, in a place where learning comes naturally. Now from an early age, young children that attend CA Frost Environmental Science Academy preschoolers spend a portion of their day exploring, discovering and learning at Blandford Nature Center as part of the CA Frost Environmental Science Academy’s Preschool.
Blandford has long served as a natural source of learning in Grand Rapids. The animals, plants, water, and other aspects of the natural world delight children and draw them in as learners. Vickie den Dulk, CA Frost Environmental Science Academy Preschool teacher, is quick to mention that “CA Frost Preschool students are fortunate that they can visit varied natural learning environments by walking out the door. The forest, ponds, stream, farm, animals, natural playscapes and meadow are all in our backyard. At the end of the day, when we talk about what we enjoyed most about our day, students almost always mention the time they spent exploring Blandford.”
It’s thrilling to work in collaboration with CA Frost Environmental Academy Preschool. In an age when children are spending less time outside, Blandford serves as a powerful resource to get more children learning outside. As a result of the collaboration, Blandford provides the outdoor classroom and additional resources for these young learners to discover more about the world in which they live.
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CA Frost Environmental Academy’s Preschool program accomplishes all the same child development goals that more traditional schools have, but it is also dedicated to accomplishing those goals through experiences in and with nature. Blandford Nature Center serves to provide an early start at helping children begin to develop care and concern for the natural world that surrounds them.
Grand Rapids Public School’s Director of Early Childhood, Matthew Beresford was instrumental in the start-up of this preschool. “I can’t think of a more exciting and engaging learning environment for a child who is drawn to the outdoors than the nature that surrounds CA Frost Environmental Science Academy. You can now begin by laughing and learning in preschool and continue exploring the world’s wonders until high school graduation!”
Together Blandford Nature Center and CA Frost Environmental Science Academy will give these young people a great start to learning more about their world. Ultimately the hope is that they will become the next generation of nature stewards.