At HC, we know that learning is best when it’s relevant for students—when they see its connection to the world around them. Few opportunities offer the level of concrete relevance that a nature-based program does. And these experiences will dovetail beautifully with our school’s mission and faith-formative focus: The Lord cares deeply about the world He made, and as His followers, we love the things He loves–including His creation that He has given us. Furthermore, research on outdoor education has shown that effective outdoor learning can improve students’ focus, cognitive function, academic test scores particularly in science, social skills, as well as wonder and creativity. Forest School students spend their days learning in and around the multi-acre wooded area nestled in the heart of our school’s property on Ottawa Avenue, with indoor classrooms for extreme weather located just to the south of Holland Christian Middle School. Our Forest School classes are offered in partnership with the Outdoor Discovery Center, the area’s foremost nature-based education experts, who is helping with regular visits from their naturalists, and is overseeing our certification standards. They are excited to help us teach the Holland Christian academic curriculum in this entirely new way. We appreciate your prayers and support throughout this school year as we continue with this outdoor adventure!
/ In the Media
WZZM Channel 13 News and reporter Brent Ashcroft followed our 2018 Forest School kindergarten students for their very first week of learning in their new Forest School kindergarten indoor and outdoor classrooms, to create this locally broadcasted news coverage of our students’ learning experiences. Besides short interviews with their teacher Ron Harig and principal Miska Rynsburger, the video depicts a true early fall week of our nature-based kindergarten, including everything from ant bites and frog finding in the rain, to learning their letters of the alphabet!
Despite growing research showing benefits of getting kids outdoors, even for full school days, there still are the practical questions–how does this work in snowy Michigan winters? How do they read and take kindergarten naps without freezing? How are these kids doing academically? WZZM Channel 13 News and reporter Brent Ashcroft followed our 2018 Forest School kindergarten students again during the coldest snowiest time of 2019 January, as a follow-up story to see how these kids are not whining about the cold, but thriving and learning all the more!
HC Medium Talk Podcast Episodes
Check out these two episodes from the HC Medium Talk Podcast featuring Forest School kindergarten teacher Ron Harig & our Forest School kids!
/ Forest School Blog
The research even apart from our current global COVID-19 pandemic shows great promise with nature-based education, but even more so in the middle of this pandemic. Learning primarily outdoors allows for natural social distancing to happen, and provides fresh air and ventilation, making outdoor education a huge draw for many parents especially now. There are a few links below specifically addressing outdoor education in the midst of COVID-10, as well as other links about the benefits of outdoor education in general:
- Resources for Outdoor Learning During COVID-19
- Natural Learning in Forest Schools: Mother Earth News
- Washington Post.com: Why schools are failing our boys
- Scholastic.com: Why kids need nature
- Great Schools.org: Children and nature: who let the kids out?
- White Hutchinson.com: Benefits for Children of Play in Nature
- White Hutchinson.com: Young children’s relationship with nature: Its importance to children’s development and the earth’s future
- Walking Stick Woods: The Evolution of a De-Evolution
“This program has been so influential in our son’s life and we couldn’t be happier and more excited for this program to continue to grow and evolve.”