Nesting owls, grazing geese, and soaring eagles are set to take the place of building blocks and crayons at Richmond’s newest, outdoor activity-based preschool.
The Thompson Community Association, Richmond Schoolyard Society, and the City of Richmond have partnered to create Richmond’s first not-for-profit nature preschool – the Terra Nova Nature Preschool.
“Hands-on experience is more important than looking at it in a picture book. When you can see a bald eagle sitting on a branch and actually watch it and observe it and then go draw it in a journal or write about what you’ve just seen,” said Kelli Lundie, a kindergarten teacher at Annieville elementary in Delta, who was hoping to sign her son up for the program.
A recent article by the Harvard Medical School points out that American children spend an average of six hours day indoors with electronic devices, and that kids are twice as physically active when playing outdoors.
“We’ve gotten kind of stuck a little bit with technology. Technology is very useful, but we need to have a balance,“ said Lundie.
The evidence suggests that long term health and mental problems can be minimized by allowing kids to play outdoors – in that it allows for more physical play, and boosts social and problem solving skills.
“I thought it was important for my son to experience the way we used to grow up and see first-hand, what is a bug and how to explore and look for things and create things out of nature.”
The program, being readied for the 2014-2015 school year, will be based out of a restored heritage house amidst the Terra Nova Rural Park, which offers fantastic views of the Fraser River and coastal mountains, an abundance of animal life, and a community garden.
Lundie is hoping that this program will help her son develop an appreciation for the area he lives in.
And she’s not alone.
Some parents even camped overnight to ensure their child would be guaranteed a spot in the preschool.