The Environmental Nature Center (ENC) has selected a contractor and will break ground on its new Nature Preschool in February 2018. The preschool is slated to open in Winter 2018. The ENC Nature Preschool will be our community’s first nature preschool and nature play area. The preschool will be located on the 1.3 acre property adjoining the Nature Center, at 745 Dover Drive.
“It is becoming evident that nature based preschools are more effective in terms of early childhood learning and healthier for the students and the environment,” said ENC Executive Director Bo Glover. “Our Nature Preschool will open in the Winter of 2018 and provide quality early childhood education and nature exploration opportunities for young children, and help them develop into environmentally literate adults.”
Nature Preschools have gained popularity in countries such as Germany and Finland, and are gaining support within the Uniter States. These innovative schools teach the building blocks of a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education by providing young children with the opportunity to become familiar with the natural world by playing – and learning – while surrounded by nature. The ENC Nature Preschool will also engage parents in active learning, serve as a model nature preschool, and provide a research forum on early childhood and environmental education.
The ENC’s Nature Pre-school will have play areas but no playgrounds. Students will spend the majority of the day outdoors, where they will have ample time for unfacilitated nature experiences. Qualified early childhood educators and environmental educators will teach them the basics of a typical preschool and more. Indoor spaces will be warm, welcoming and conducive to learning. All construction on the new Nature Preschool will meet or exceed the sustainable building guidelines incorporated into the ENC’s existing LEED Platinum certified facility. It is also the ENC’s goal to achieve certification through the Living Building Challenge.
The design of the preschool has already been awarded a citation from the American Institute of Architects Orange County Chapter (AIAOCC) in 2015. The ENC’s Nature Preschool was one of eight projects selected to receive an award out of the 56 projects that were entered into the design competition. It was the only project to receive an award that was not a completed project; meaning the jury saw great potential in the building. It was noted during the award ceremony “that the site design and building worked seamlessly and a great deal of thought was given to the creation of a learning environment where nature was the focus.”
“I truly believe that this Nature Preschool and Nature Play Area will be an integral addition to the community making an essential impact on the next generation.” said Rick John, long-time Newport Beach resident and ENC Board Member. “We are urgently seeking community members to join us in supporting the ENC Nature Preschool.”