The Guelph Outdoor Preschool provides a safe, nurturing environment where children can develop emotionally, socially, physically, and cognitively through playful, hands-on experiences and meaningful interactions. Children spend as much of their day as possible outdoors where they are provided with an optimal environment for early childhood development. The outdoors offers an abundance of sensory experiences, more diverse gross and fine motor challenges, varied open-ended materials, and endless opportunities for imaginative play, all of which are crucial to all areas of development. In addition, children will develop a sense of wonder and a deeper respect for our environment.
Because children are inherently curious and eager to learn, an Emergent curriculum model is used. Staff follow the children’s lead and base the curriculum on the children’s interests. We maintain high staff to child ratios so children receive more opportunities for meaningful interactions. Staff and children learn and discover answers together through hands on experiences, experiments, and external resources. When children learn about what is meaningful and interesting to them, they gain a joy for learning that opens the door to lifelong learning.
A schedule is followed to ensure a sense of predictability within the day, with room for changes based on children’s needs and interests. Children are given ample unhurried opportunities to socialize, express emotions, create, play, develop physical and self help skills, ask questions and find answers. Our days are spent exploring the Ignatius Jesuit Centre property, including the forests, creek, living willow dome, wetlands, orchards, and gardens. Staff are always close by to provide children with gentle guidance and a sense of security. Children in our program gain self confidence, independence, and respect for themselves, others, and the environment.
Safety is always a top priority at our centre. All activities are planned with appropriate safety considerations made, including daily safety checks of field trip locations and weather conditions, appropriate clothing checks, well-trained, CPR and First Aid Certified staff, site specific safety policies, and high staff to child ratios.
We strive to develop strong partnerships with families to ensure that our program meets the needs of all children and families we serve. Parents are encouraged to participate in the program by volunteering their time, contributing skills, knowledge, and resources, and influencing centre policies and procedures. Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher, and are our best resource for making sure children’s individual needs are met.
The children are given two snacks and a meal each day. The menu is guided by recommendations by Canada’s Food Guide, with an emphasis on healthy, palatable, varied, and whole foods. All meals and snacks are freshly prepared on site. Ingredients are sourced locally, seasonally and organically as much as possible. Mealtimes are an enjoyable opportunity for everyone to come together for nourishment and pleasant conversation.
Staff are trained professionals, dedicated to the education and care of children and building a harmonious relationship with nature. Staff work in a team driven environment that promotes open communication, opportunities for professional development, input into decision making, and financial recognition of the value of their work.
The Guelph Outdoor Preschool aims to provide children with high quality early childhood education and care in a stimulating environment that takes learning and play outdoors. Through direct, playful interactions with each other and our environment, we aim to help children to develop a sense of wonder and respect for nature, promote excellent physical and mental health, build relationships based on care and respect, and encourage a joy for lifelong learning. Through play and exploration in meadow, forest, stream, river, farm and garden environments we strive to constantly find meaningful ways for children to connect to each other, themselves, and the living world around them.