New Preschool Takes Flight at Montana Audubon Center

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photo courtesy of Montana Audubon Center
photo courtesy of Montana Audubon Center

Starting in the Fall of 2015, Montana Audubon Center will be rolling out a new preschool founded on the philosophy that “children learn best through play and hands on experience.” The Fledglings Preschool’s unique curriculum will take students beyond the confines of learning indoors, with much of their “classroom” experience occurring outdoors.

The Audubon Center aims to create and develop the following in their young scholars:

  • An enthusiasm in learning
  • Solid oral-language skills
  • The ability to listen
  • The desire to be independent
  • The ability to play well with others
  • Strong fine-motor skills
  • Basic letter and number recognition

The Fledglings Preschool will be an environment where play clothes, layers, sunscreen and bug spray are a must as the kids embark on absolute hands-on learning. Their days will include, but aren’t limited to…

  • Outdoor Adventures – directed exploring and playing outside, working on climbing, balancing, creative thinking, lifting, and building;
  • Followed by an inside wrap-up, reviewing what they saw followed by an activity or craft;
  • Snacks and unstructured playtime;
  • Story time/music/crafts;
  • Leading to more outside time with guided exploration of science, math and language;
  • A day at the Fledglings Preschool will conclude with lunch and clean up.

All of this has come together, explains Frances Boyens, Director of Education, from researched objectives that show why this type of learning is beneficial for students. Starting with the idea that “Total nature immersion regardless of weather or season” results in an “intimate, deep, and personal connection to the natural world.” Utilizing a “Reggio-inspired Emergent Curriculum,” follows the belief that “…Children are full of curiosity and creativity; they are not empty memory banks waiting to be filled with facts, figures

photo courtesy of Montana Audubon Center
photo courtesy of Montana Audubon Center

and dates.” The goal of this type of curriculum is to cultivate a lifelong passion for learning and exploration in children. Beyond that it’s believed that this type of “Place-Based Education” gives students the opportunity to “learn subject matter in deep and lasting ways, understand the places they live in and participate in community renewal that makes a difference to themselves and others.” Finally, this preschool seeks to provide an “Inquiry Based Teaching Style that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios – rather than simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge.”

With small class sizes and this hands-on approach to learning, the Montana Audubon Center’s new preschool might be just what you’ve been looking for your little learner! For more information go to http://www.mtacec.org/programs/fledglings-preschool/ or contact Frances Boyens, Director of Education at 406-294-5099.

Fledglings Preschool 411:

  • Registration opens March 23, 2015
  • Registration closes May 31, 2015
  • Cost: $260/month
  • Open Houses: March 23 @ 4-6pm and April 23 @ 4-6pm
  • Classes start Wednesday, Sept 2, 2015

Monthly Themes:

  • Sept: Get to know yourself, your environment and classmates. Learn about teamwork and exploration.
  • Oct: Changes in nature through senses.
  • Nov: Preparing for winter, shelters, adaptations, and foraging.
  • Dec: Nature celebration with music, song, and dance.
  • Jan: Coverings: coats, boots, fur, feathers. How do humans and animals deal with the cold?
  • Feb: Enjoying the cold while working on cooperative play and colorful birds.
  • March: Concert in nature: listen, learn, and mimic.
  • April: Water everywhere! Learn the shapes of things while enjoying planting season.
  • May: Plants and Flowers: how did we all change through the year?