Antioch University New England Offers Nature-Based Early Childhood Education Courses This Fall

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An innovative new field, nature-based childhood education, is attracting attention from educators looking to start nature preschools and forest kindergartens, or to add more outdoor education into their classes. AUNE's series of programs on nature-based early childhood education, offered through the academic year, will offer training in the field.

The innovative Nature-Based Early Childhood Education program series at Antioch University New England (AUNE) continues during the fall semester, with three courses. These one-credit courses are open to both early-childhood professionals and matriculated AUNE students. Tuition stipends are available for ten early childhood professionals to help defray tuition costs.

The programs aim to give educators information and hands-on experience with nature preschools, forest kindergartens, and other nature-based programs, which have uniquely different approach to education from conventional indoor early-childhood centers.

The fall courses, all held at the AUNE campus, are:

  • September 21–22. Landscape Analysis and Design for Nature Play and Learning. Faculty: Virginia Sullivan, chair of the board of Conway School of Landscape Architecture and co-author of Lens on Outdoor Learning.

The course will examine how experience in nature promotes engagement with the early childhood standards, and the roles of the teacher, the child, and the environment. It will use site assessment, analysis, and schematic design to study the strengths and weaknesses of your location for a nature-based early childhood program.

  • October 5–6. Natural History for Early Childhood. Faculty: Susie Spikol Faber, outdoor education coordinator and director of the young children and parents programs at the Harris Center for Conservation, Hancock, New Hampshire.

This course will focus on learning the natural history of northern New England that most directly relates to being outdoors with children. Participants will learn the flora, fauna, and natural phenomena and skills that effectively engage young children. They include fire-building, basket-making, nature art, tracking, children’s literature as a vehicle to nature exploration, and wild edibles.

  • October 26–27. Movement and Storytelling in the Pre-K Classroom. Faculty: Libby Haddock, founder of Waldorf-inspired Cobb Meadow School in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

This course will explore the importance of storytelling and movement in the daily life of children and in the classroom environment. Students will experience a variety of ways to use storytelling, puppetry, singing games, and practical activities to enrich the early childhood classroom.

The cost is $465 per graduate credit; $300 to audit. (Tuition assistance is available for ten early childhood professionals registering for courses individually. With tuition assistance, the cost of the courses will be $230 per credit.)    For more information contact Krishni Pahl, AUNE Department of Education, or 603-283-2314.

Courses planned for 2014 are:

  • Business Planning for Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens
  • Working with Parents and Community
  • Risk Management for Nature-Based Early Childhood
  • Early Childhood Education Pre-K to Third
  • Childhood and Nature

Matriculated students in AUNE’s Teacher Certification/Integrated Learning master’s degree program have the option of specializing in nature-based early childhood education within the Elementary Education Certification/Integrated Learning Program.

AUNE recently received a $117,000 grant from the George B. Storer Foundation to “naturalize” its early childhood program and develop a thirteen-month certificate program for early childhood professionals and/or entrepreneurs who want to create new programs This new certificate program will be available starting in 2014.

About Antioch University New England (AUNE)
Antioch University New England offers highly respected doctoral, master’s, and certificate programs in education, environmental studies, management and psychology. Located in Keene, New Hampshire, this unique institution serves approximately one thousand students each year. Our graduates have gone on to be leaders of positive change, working toward a more just and sustainable society. Founded in 1964, Antioch University New England is the oldest of Antioch University’s graduate campuses. Learn more at:

About Antioch University
Inspired by the work of pioneering educator Horace Mann, Antioch University, a private, non-profit, 501(c) 3 institution, provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. With campuses in Keene, New Hampshire, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Seattle, and Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch University is a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education. The University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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Jan Fiderio
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