The Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach, Calif., has broken ground on a Nature Preschool that is billed as the community’s first nature preschool and nature play area.
The center says the ENC Nature Preschool, situated on on 1.3 acres bordering the Nature Center’s Redwood Forest, will teach the basics of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education. Young children will have the opportunity to become familiar with the natural world by playing and learning while surrounded by nature.
Indoor spaces will be warm, welcoming and conducive to learning, but the majority of the day will be spent learning outside.
“It is becoming increasingly evident that nature-based preschools are more effective in terms of learning and health benefits,” says ENC Executive Director Bo Glover. “Our Nature Preschool will provide quality education and nature exploration opportunities for preschool children, and help them develop into environmentally literate adults, which is needed today more than ever.”
LPA, the project architect, says the 8,000-square-foot, three-classroom facility is designed to foster a connection to the outdoors. Outdoor spaces will include a stone abacus and a landscape of drought-tolerant plants. Boulders, logs and tree stumps will be used for seating, and an organic garden will provide teaching opportunities and food supplies for students.
The ENC is aiming for the Nature Center to receive a Platinum LEED Rating, the highest sustainability rating bestowed by the US Green Building Council.
"The ENC’s Nature Preschool will have play areas but no playgrounds,” says ENC Nature Preschool Director Sue Bierlich. “Students will spend the majority of the day outdoors, where they will have ample time for unfacilitated nature experiences.
The preschool is projected to be completed in 2019.