Program Overview

Nature-based: Natural environments are an optimal context for early childhood development. Research shows that they are more stimulating, less stressful, safer, and healthier. The outdoor environment is rich in sensory experiences, gross and fine-motor challenges, open-ended materials, and opportunities for imaginative play. Nature play improves children’s physical, mental, and emotional well being.

Play-based Emergent Curriculum: Research demonstrates that children achieve greater academic, social and emotional success by learning through play. The Emergent curriculum uses play and real-life experiences to drive learning and achieve curriculum goals. This model follows the children’s curiosity and expands on their evolving interests, making learning more meaningful.

Staff: Adult attention, time and energy are vital to promoting each child’s unique development. Parents, community organizations, students and volunteers are included in daily activities to provide children with even more of this key resource. We are a multi-disciplinary team of women and men, bringing a wide range of experience to the program

Community Engagement: The Ignatius community provides exceptional real-world learning opportunities for children. Early years experts agree that children learn best when the curriculum is rooted in authentic experiences that are purposeful, meaningful and relevant to the children’s lives. We create learning opportunities for children through relationships with the thriving garden community, organic farm, ecological enterprises and community organizations at Ignatius.

Music and Arts Integration: Studies have shown that integrating the arts into language, math and science instruction helps bring these subjects to life and facilitates learning.

Music Together: This program, first offered in 1987, pioneered the concept of a research based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music curriculum.

Music Together is an internationally recognized, leading music curriculum for early-learning settings. A comprehensive, research-based program, Music Together’s primary goal is to support children’s music development so they can achieve tonal and rhythmic competence. Yet the rich, play-based learning environment created by Music Together’s developmentally appropriate approach to music-learning also fosters children’s growth in other domains essential to school and life success.

The Music Together curriculum and program model support:

  • Music Learning and Development
  • Language Development and Emergent Literacy
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Cognition and General Knowledge
  • Physical and Motor Development
  • Approaches to Learning

Seasonal Local Organic Food: We source ingredients that are local, seasonal and primarily organic, supplemented by produce from our kitchen garden. Good ingredients are tastier, more nutritious and better for the environment. Our commitment to supporting sustainable farming affirms our commitment to the children and future generations.

Cooking: Cooking weaves together math, science, art and culture in a delicious and fun way. It is an effective way for children to learn math and science. Our young chefs have been very successful with preparing simple snacks for themselves using ingredients they have grown. The children are learning where their food comes from and how to prepare it.

Kitchen Garden: We recognize the rich learning opportunities in the growing and preparation of food, and include children in these activities whenever possible. The children are included in the cultivation of our kitchen garden, which gives them an understanding of the path from seed to table, and the role of the environment in sustaining life.

Program Options and Fees

  1. Full-Time Full-Day Program: A full-time position, from 8:30 – 5:00 Monday to Friday. The rate is $60/day which includes a healthy primarily organic lunch and snacks.
  2. Part-Time Full-Day Program: Children can participate in a combination of days for $65/day. Parents can choose as many days as they like, from 8:30 – 5:00. There is no minimum, or full-time requirement.
  3. Half-Day Program: Children can participate for mornings from 8:30 – 12:45 (includes lunch) for $45, or afternoons (1:00 – 5:00) for $40 per day. Minimum 2 half-days/week.

Hours of Operation

Monday – Friday 8:30 – 5:00.  **Please ask about extended hours.

Age Range

The Guelph Outdoor Preschool program is created for children 2 1/2 -6 years old. We may be able to include children who are a little younger if they are fully toilet trained.

The Daily Rhythm of the Outdoor Preschool

We carefully plan our days, but always keep a few aces up our sleeve to make sure that a sense of spontaneity permeates the children’s experience. The specific games and adventures change with the seasons, the ability levels, and the emotional state of the group. The children’s interests are an important deciding factor in the journeys taken.

A Typical Day at the Guelph Outdoor Preschool

8:30 – 8:45 arrival
8:45 – 9:15 washroom routine, snack
9:15 – 9:30 dressing for outdoors, safety check
9:30 – 11:30 morning adventure* (forest, meadow, stream, wetlands, orchard, garden):we set out to our destination to explore, play make-believe, do art, make music, dance and sing, read stories, run and jump, collect stuff, learn practical skills, look for wildlife, scoop and pour, build, play games etc.
11:30 – 12:00 return to centre, share stories, washroom routine
12:00 – 12:45 lunch
12:45 – 2:30 nap time, quiet activities for non-nappers
2:30 – 3:00 washroom routine, snack
3:00 – 4:30 afternoon exploration*:we set out on another adventure where we continue to have fun and learn – possibly dancing, drumming and singing, to build willow shelter, map with earth, sticks, stones, collect bouquet of wild flowers, make ropes from bark, swing like monkeys from ropes, make nets like spiders, find edible greens, hide like fawns, tend kitchen garden
4:30 – 5:00 return to centre, free play, departure

*Schedule may be changed based on children’s interests, needs, preparedness for activities, and weather conditions.

Dressing for the Weather

We will guide parents and children in preparing for the weather so that children are safe and comfortable and fully enjoy their day.

Families are given training on dressing for the weather and facilitators perform a daily safety check to ensure that children are well prepared and have everything they need.

Inclement Weather

In extreme weather conditions, including inclement weather below -10 degrees and thunder and lightning storms, we will use our fully equipped indoor play and learning centre.  While inside, we will continue with our daily rhythm and learning plan, including activities such as painting, baking, cooking, potting plants, reading, drawing, weaving, creating plays, music-making, dancing and much more.

Intake Process

  1. Expressing interest: parents e-mail to ask about program and get more information.
  2. Tour: A site tour is scheduled with parents, children and program mentors. This is a good opportunity to view the facilities, meet mentors, and address any questions or concerns.
  3. Registration Form and Questionnaire is filled out and forwarded to the Guelph Outdoor Preschool.
  4. A placement is secured with a non-refundable deposit for the first month’s attendance. Orientation meeting is scheduled and a transition plan is formed for each child.
  5. The first three weeks are a time to work with parents to help a child transition into the program and assess suitability. We are dedicated to try our best to integrate every child, but reserve the right to withdraw acceptance in cases of unsuitability. If there are difficulties that affect the safety and enjoyment of other children we will make alternate arrangements with families.

Enrolment is limited, we offer priority on a first come first served basis.

We look forward to meeting and working with you!