Andy Atkisnon / Mail TribuneJihan Nicholas (left) and Mlissa Moore signal with college students at Forest Park in Jacksonville Wednesday morning.
Andy Atkisnon / Mail TribuneStudents Rowan and Sterling search for wildlife at Forest Park in Jacksonville Wednesday morning.
Andy Atkisnon / Mail TribuneBen Moore helps college students construct a teepee at Forest Park in Jacksonville Wednesday morning.
Andy Atkisnon / Mail TribuneBen Moore helps college students fake to row throughout the creek at Forest Park in Jacksonville Wednesday morning.
Andy Atkisnon / Mail TribuneJihan Nicholas interacts with college students at Forest Park in Jacksonville Wednesday morning.
JACKSONVILLE — Park up Reservoir Road, get out of the automobile, begin following the steep winding trails and you could begin to hear the faint sound of faculty kids.
The children is perhaps enjoying with sticks and making shapes with them or digging in the grime with shovels.
After a little bit of free play to start out the morning at Freckled Fawn Nature School, there’s at all times “circle time,” which entails instructors main the youngsters in music.
The “big idea” for this week: autumn. Timely, contemplating the latest change in season. So it was solely acceptable that one of many songs kids sang Wednesday was about leaves.
“I need to hear your voices sing with me. Ready? I know you’ll like this one,” teacher Jihan Nicholas mentioned to the scholars, holding a number of leaves. “Five golden leaves hanging in the tree/dancing golden in the sun/when along came the wind.”
This morning routine of play and music is only a pattern of the happenings at Freckled Fawn, which enrolls college students in preschool all the way in which as much as second grade.
The thought for the varsity got here from Melissa Moore, an alumna of Southern Oregon University. Once she graduated with an early childhood training diploma, she discovered work at a nursery and started specializing in growth of kids ages 0-5.
“The group of students that I was working with had a lot of trauma in their lives and I found that it was healing, being in nature,” Moore mentioned. “It was pretty amazing to see that healing process happen. Their energy levels dropped. There was this sense of calm.”
Moore married her associate, Ben, additionally a SOU grad, and the couple began having kids. When Moore watched her oldest daughter go to preschool, she felt the necessity for her to get outdoors extra usually.
“I had this desire to provide … a safe place for them to explore [that was] nature-based,” Moore mentioned. “So, I can stay home and provide something for my children as well as children in the valley.”
Ben, who earned a level in environmental science, at one time taught youngsters about salmon habitat. His love of science ultimately channeled right into a need to show at the character college along with his spouse.
“I went back to my childhood, thinking, ‘I loved being outdoors all the time and a lot of kids don’t get that chance,’” he mentioned. “After teaching here for a little while, you just get so excited to see the kids getting excited out here. It’s just infectious.”
While the character college’s strategies of instruction embody “play-based learning,” Moore emphasised that “academics is important,” although Freckled Fawn doesn’t have a schoolhouse with desks.
“Everything we do for grade school follows the state standard,” she mentioned. “It’s just the way we instruct for that state standard.”
That is true for a standard normal like the flexibility to depend from one via 10.
“We’re taking that standard and we’re implementing it in a way, in nature, that is going to be more concrete for them because they are using their whole body,” Moore mentioned. “They might not have paper and pen all the time, but it is something they use.”
Jamie Diamond, who lately moved to Jacksonville along with his household from Wyoming, enrolled his 3-year-old, Brooklyn, at Freckled Fawn after his spouse googled the time period “wild schooling.”
“As parents, we weren’t as concerned about Brooklyn’s A,B,Cs and 1,2,3s as much as we were concerned about her emotional well-being and being able to play and learn a lot more through play than a traditional school,” Diamond mentioned.
Another issue in sending Brooklyn to Freckled Fawn was the couple’s earlier expertise in the standard college system with their different kids.
“We didn’t want those kinds of pressures that early for Brooklyn,” Diamond mentioned.
Brooklyn has been outfitted with rain gear to courageous Oregon’s fall and winters and it’s clear she approves of Freckled Fawn.
“She came home the other day and jumped in a giant mud puddle and she was fine with it,” Diamond mentioned. “I want my kids to be able to jump in a mud puddle and not have it be a bad thing at 3-years-old.”
Brooklyn attends Freckled Fawn through the afternoon session. In just some brief months, her household is beginning to see the return on funding.
“You can just see the delight she has wanting to go there and also when she’s done, how much fun she had in a positive atmosphere,” Diamond mentioned.
In an period when it’s troublesome to keep up a life with out electronics, he and his spouse’s strategy has been to let their kids begin utilizing issues like iPads “in moderation” beginning a sure age.
“We can see an impact if our kids don’t get outside or do creative play,” Diamond mentioned.
Less display screen time is getting Diamond’s youngsters in extra inventive play, very similar to the character college. The household did a “very steep adventurous” hike one Friday once they weren’t in college and the children appeared to get pleasure from it.
“I’m just so glad we can do those things rather than be shut inside thinking that we have to be in the four walls to survive,” Diamond mentioned.