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Authentic Nature Play and the Growth it Fosters: A 5-Session Professional Learning Community

Appropriate for Pre-K & K educators

Course Description:

Professional Learning Communities (PLC) create an environment to share and gain knowledge as well as make lasting changes in practice. By coming together for multiple sessions educators can begin to implement what is learned in between meeting which leads to rich discussion and reflection within the group. In this PLC, participants will learn how they can meet the Vermont Early Learning Standards while also spending more frequent, unstructured time outdoors with their students. Join a group of early childhood professionals as we learn new skills for playing and learning outside with young children!

Participants will:
* Participate in a community of learners to share and gain knowledge with the goal of improving the outdoor experiences for students.
* Develop a deeper understanding of what authentic nature play looks like and how to support it.
* Explore ways to set up a safe outdoor environment that will encourage independence, exploration, and play.
* Reflect on current practices and make commitments of change resulting in greater authentic nature play experiences for students.
* Become familiar with resources to support playing and learning outside with young children.
* Identify the learning and growth that occurs when young children are given ample play based opportunities in a natural outdoor setting.

May 22 –What is Authentic Nature Play?
June 19 – Physical Spaces and Materials
August 21 –  The Role of the Adult as Mentor
September 18 –  Rewards and Risk
October 16 –The Learning and Growth that Outdoor Play Fosters

Laura Branca is the founder, director, and teacher at Little Birch Nature Preschool, a nature-based and Waldorf-inspired program that takes place at her home in Johnson. She received her Masters in Education and Waldorf Teaching Certificate from Antioch University New England.  She is a Vermont licensed teacher in early childhood – grade 6. Laura participated in a training institute on leading this model of nature based PLC’s through the Four Winds Nature Institute, which inspired much of this PLC series. .