The Experiential School Awarded Nature Explore Classroom Certification
by: Rachel Barrett, Director of Marketing and Communications
The Experiential School of Tampa Bay, the 3, 4, and 5-year-old program at Shorecrest Preparatory School, has earned national recognition as a Certified Nature Explore Classroom. The certification comes from the Nature Explore program, a collaboration of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and the Arbor Day Foundation. The Experiential School is one of only 13 certified spaces in the State of Florida. It is the only Outdoor Classroom with the certification in the Tampa Bay Area.
“The Experiential School’s commitment to providing research-based and nature-rich learning offers a wonderful example to programs and educators throughout the country.” said Heather Fox, Director of communications and outreach for the Nature Explore program. “These spaces inspire hands-on activity, creativity, play and plenty of time exploring the natural world.”
This certification confers upon The Experiential School a number of benefits, including membership in an ever-expanding network of more than 360 like-minded spaces nationwide. These Certified Nature Explore Classrooms foster highly effective, nature-based outdoor learning.
These unique outdoor classrooms—which are springing up like wildflowers across the country—offer interactive elements such as musical instruments made of natural materials, garden or pathway areas, and natural materials for building and creating art.
Research consistently shows that children who learn and grow in Nature Explore Classrooms exhibit enhanced concentration, develop creativity and problem solving techniques, manage stress in healthy ways and develop skills across the spectrum of academic and creative learning.
Junior Kindergarten teacher Wendy Jotch championed the creation of The Experiential School Outdoor Classroom. “Enjoying nature and learning outdoors have always been tenets of the philosophy of The Experiential School,” says Jotch. “Formalizing that philosophy through the creation of an official, research-based space was the next logical step for us. We are so proud to be a part of the Nature Explore network and learn and share with like-minded educators.”
Nature Explore Classrooms were developed by a team of master educators, landscape architects and researchers in response to the documented growing disconnect between children and nature. The classrooms help fill this void by integrating research-based outdoor learning opportunities into children’s daily lives. Classrooms that are designed according to standards and principles described in Dimensions Educational Research Foundation’s “Learning With Nature Ideas Book” are eligible to become Certified Nature Explore Classrooms.
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