Tike Hikes Outdoor Preschool’s curriculum revolves around our 3 pillars:
Education. Exploration. Conservation.
The Reggio Emilia Approach
At Tike Hikes Outdoor Preschool, we believe in not only helping your child develop a connection with the environment but also with themselves, their peers, and their communities. This is why our curriculum is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. Here are a few principles that Tike Hikes follows and abides by that align with Reggio Emilia:
- The Hundred Languages of Children: Reggio Emilia educators believe that children have a multitude of ways to learn and express themselves. This includes singing, dancing, painting, sculpting, movement, and writing among others. Our educators are there to provide a wide range of materials and experiences so that students can become masters of their languages and thus happier and more confident human beings.
- The Image of the Child: Children are competent individuals who are active in their learning and are capable of choosing the direction of their education. That is why students are given the opportunity to pick and choose between several activities and decide how they to want to learn for the day. They can participate (or not) and are free to move from one activity to another as they choose. This type of self-led learning is beneficial to all ages and developmental levels in our multi-age classrooms.
- The Importance of Environment: We believe nature to be the most important teacher which is why Tike Hikes Outdoor Preschool is 100% outdoors. With nature as our classroom, each class is full of smells, sights, sounds, and natural light that invite children to learn and explore. The ever-changing environments provide unique enrichment opportunities and allow for spontaneous learning to happen in every class.
- Role of the Educator: The educators are there to act as a stepping stone for each student to reach their next level of education. They introduce new ideas, challenges, and experiences to the students in order to engage their critical thinking, open the imagination, and build new life skills. Another role of the educator is to learn from the students. Notes are taken during each class, and curriculum will be adjusted and built further upon assessments made during class.
- Small Class Size: Our classes are kept small and intimate so that children do not feel overwhelmed and get adequate time with the educator and their peers. We have found that with a teacher: student ratio of 1:3-5, everyone has a chance to be heard and get their questions answered. It also provides a perfect opportunity for young children to learn communication skills such as hearing and listening to their peers, and participating in a conversation. All of our classes are multi-age classrooms and composed of children ages 2-5 years old. The interaction of children in our multi-age, small classrooms has shown that everyone can learn something from everyone else. The younger children are given the opportunity to observe and learn directly from the older children which develops their independence and confidence, and the older children get the ability to become leaders, and learn patience and empathy when interacting with the younger students.
- Observation and Documentation: All students keep a field journal for the duration of the semester. Teachers and students collaborate to write a few sentences for each class based on things that each child said or observed. It’s a great way to see how much the child’s knowledge has expanded over the course of the semester and provides a way to keep parents involved. Field journals are also helpful in developing future lesson plans based on the student’s interests.
- Curriculum is Not Established: The beauty of our preschool is that all learning happens organically. Although we do have an overall monthly theme broken down into weekly themes, the children ultimately decide what direction the class will go. An example of this would be that the lesson for the day was to learn about food grown on a farm, but find that 20-30 minutes of the class was spent observing the chickens pecking at insects on the ground because students were inquisitive about it. Another example would be splitting the class into two smaller groups if some of the students wanted to stay back and spend more time focusing on an art project instead of investigating slugs with the rest of the class.
- Importance of Investigating: There is no shortage of exploration at our preschool! In fact, one of the pillars that Tike Hikes was built upon is exploration! A significant portion of each class is dedicated to investigating and exploring our natural surroundings.
- Sense of Community: Tike Hikes believes that we succeed and fail as a group and stress the importance of working together and succeeding as a team. We strive for students to feel the importance of taking care of the environment and their community and provide opportunities to volunteer with local charities throughout the year. We encourage families to be involved as much as they want and to help develop our own Tike Hikes community.
Literacy is also a large focus at Tike Hikes Outdoor Preschool. With the ability to read and write comes endless opportunities which is why we set a goal to read 10 books a day. We achieve this by reading at snack and lunch time and using natural materials we find in the forest as our mediums to learn letters and numbers. All books read are relevant to the monthly theme to provide your child with deeper knowledge and connection to their environment.
Safety always comes first. Our classes are held exclusively outdoors and safety is always in the forefront of every parent’s mind. All teachers are CPR and First-Aid Certified. They are also outdoor enthusiasts that are trained and skilled in trail safety. We keep our class sizes small with a teacher: student ratio of 1:3-5, utilize a team-based system to organize ourselves, and perform activities in a safe manner to ensure that our children are always supervised and out of harm’s way. Trail safety is an integral part of every class and we teach our students what to be aware of when exploring in the outdoors to remain safe.
We value the quality of your child’s education and that is why in addition to their roles as educators our teachers are also skilled hikers who are knowledgeable in the flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. Classes will feature an explorational hike integrated with our kinesthetic learning method where students have a hands-on opportunity to interact, experience, and discover their natural surroundings at their own pace. We also integrate the use of scientific tools to learn and explore bio-diverse environments, plants, and animals in a safe and respectful manner. The Pacific Northwest provides a wide range of environments that are always changing which gives us the opportunity to provide new and unique learning experiences with every class.
Our exploratory hikes not only help us learn about our environment but also about ourselves. Leadership skills, confidence, independence, and self-reliance are built on the trail. Our hiking inspired program is designed to get your child excited about learning through safe exploration of their natural world. The more they explore, the higher their confidence in the natural world and in themselves will become and allow them to lead by example to the other children in the class.
Stewardship – By fostering a love for nature in our classroom, children will develop the skills and the passion to allow them to become lifelong stewards for the environment in which they live. The practice of these skills in their day-to-day life will help educate others on the positive impact of environmental conservation.
Leave No Trace – As a matter of respect for our environment we teach and practice the principles of “Leave No Trace.” We emphasize the importance of staying on trails to minimize damage to our ecosystem. We also leave it as we find it by picking up after ourselves and others to keep wildlife wild and preserve our classroom for others to enjoy it just as we did.
Reduce / Reuse / Recycle – At Tike Hikes we do our part to help preserve our environment, energy, and natural resources for future generations by practicing these principles of conservationism. We make every effort to utilize environmentally friendly materials as well as teaching the benefits of recycling and composting by sorting our waste and identifying it for re-use or appropriate disposal.
Monthly Theme: Native Pacific Northwest
Details: This month we will learn about plants and animals that call the Pacific Northwest their home. We explore areas rich in biodiversity, forage for edible plants in the forest, and learn all about the importance of each animal or insect’s role in nature. Each week in this series will be focused around areas that showcase the old growth forests, wetlands, preserves, insects, birds, and animals that make the Pacific Northwest such an interesting place to explore.
Weekly Theme: Wetlands
Details: This week we are exploring Redmond Watershed Preserve to learn all about the plants and animals (big and small) that call this watershed home. All books, crafts, and songs this week will feature a wetland or preserve theme. Science lesson and experiment demonstrating how wetlands are nature’s filtration system will be conducted during Lesson of the Day one day this week.
9:30 – 9:50: Drop-Off and Transition time. Students have the opportunity to choose between 2-4 sensory activities to interact with. For this class, the activities will be: building a spider web with string and saving pretend bugs, homemade playdoh, bubbles, and alphabet blocks.
9:50 – 10:00: Morning Huddle: A way for us to come together and focus as a group. This is our morning song, dance or music time before we begin our educational portion of our day.
10:00 – 10:15: Lesson of the day: Introduction to Wetlands. Discuss with the students who/what they think live in the forest. Overview of the importance of wetlands before heading off on our hike. Science experiment of building our own wetland and watching it filter the water will be performed.
10:15 – 10:45: Exploratory Hike and Craft: Similar or different? Students will be given magnifying glasses and safety scissors on this portion of the hike to take samples of 5 different native plants. We’ll discuss their different smells, textures, leaf shapes, and how they grow. Children will be given an opportunity to make leaf rubbings and negative space art with the samples taken.
10:45 – 11:00: Snack and story time in the forest.
11:00 – 12:00: Exploratory time: This time is spent hiking, playing, learning, and exploring the park further.
12:00 – 12:30: Lunch, story time, and pickup.