Parents in Tacoma will have the chance Wednesday to learn more about the Tacoma Nature Center and their Nurture in Nature Preschool. The program is unique because it is largely outdoors, and is now offering an all-outdoor option.
Nature Center Supervisor Michele Cardinaux started thinking about the outdoor option back in 2007. They opened two years later and have grown from 22 students in their first set to 72 students a year.
Cardinaux believes this outdoor option is a great one for many kids.
“They get to use all their senses. They get to run, learn, play. Studies have shown that kids learn best when they’re doing, and so getting them out into nature and being part of it is a great way for them to learn a lot of nature things. But also the traditional things like their numbers and letters, cooperation, social skills, all of those things,” Cardinaux said. “Some kids learn differently than others, and there are some kids who really do learn best from being active and outdoors. A traditional classroom tends to be a little more sedentary and a little less use the imagination.”
Cardinaux believes the Nature Center, run through Metro Parks Tacoma, is the perfect venue for kids to get this opportunity.
“With over 70 acres of natural area, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get out into nature easily,” Cardinaux said. “We don’t have to bus them anywhere. We don’t have to walk anywhere other than right into the park.”
State Senator Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, is working to start a pilot program that will work toward outdoor preschools getting licensing. Without licensing, it means that about 40 outdoor preschools across the state currently can’t run all day and they aren’t eligible for public funding. If Ranker’s bill is passed, it will create a program that will work toward all of that changing.
If you are interested in learning more about outdoor preschools you can go to an open house at the Tacoma Nature Center, 1919 Tyler Street in Tacoma, from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday. You can also learn more information at MetroParksTacoma.org.