Nature Preschool Definition and Movement

Nature Preschool Definition

The Natural Start Alliance, a program of the North American Association for Environmental Education, has defined nature preschools using the following characteristics:

  1. Nature is the central organizing concept of the program. That is, nature is the integrating thread that intentionally ties together the preschool’s philosophy, methodologies, class-room design, outdoor spaces, and public identity.
  2. A nature preschool’s program is based on high-quality practices of both early childhood education (developmentally appropriate practices) and environmental education (the North American Association for Environmental Education’s “Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education” and principles of interpretation), requiring its teaching staff to have skills and experience in both early childhood education and environmental education.
  3. A nature preschool program uses the natural world to support dual goals that address both child development and conservation values. These include the development of the world of the child (in all domains – cognitive, physical, social, emotional, aesthetic, and spiritual) and the development of an ecological identity or environmental ethic.

Nature Preschool Movement

Rooted in the teaching and philosophies of educational greats, the idea of nature as educator is gaining popularity within the United States as research continues to support its overarching positive effects for whole child development. Nature preschools have been popular in Europe and Scandinavia for decades and are growing here in the United States with the Natural Start Alliance reporting over 250 nature preschools nationwide.(

The Kreher Preserve and Nature Center is excited to offer the second nature preschool in Alabama beginning in August, 2019. This preschool will use an emergent, child-led curriculum based in play and developmentally appropriate practices. Nature Preschools are valued for their attention and support of a child’s social, physical, and mental growth. Students will engage in rich play opportunities which are guided by their explorations and questioning. A typical day will consist of the following schedule:

Typical Day

Arrival and Morning Greetings

Circle time and preparing for the day ahead

Setting out into the woods for our daily exploration

Snack Time

Talking Time and Documenting our experiences

Play/Exploration Time

Storytime and Closing Activities