A local childcare and preschool has earned national certification as a Nature Explore Classroom from the Arbor Day Foundation.
"Only Quality Kids Childcare and Preschool," in Bellevue was awarded the certification.
The childcare joins a growing network of organizations and institutions that have created effective nature-based outdoor learning environments for children. This network allows for idea-sharing, peer support and continuous development.
Nature Explore Classrooms are part of the Nature Explore program, a collaborative project of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation developed in response to the growing disconnect between children and nature. Certified Nature Explore Classrooms help fill the void by integrating research-based outdoor learning opportunities into children’s daily lives.
“Only Quality Kids Childcare and Preschool has shown tremendous leadership in growing the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Susie Wirth, Nature Explore Outreach Director. “Their commitment to providing research-based and nature-rich learning offers a wonderful example to educators throughout the country.”
The classrooms, which are being developed across the country, offer interactive elements such as musical instruments made of natural materials, garden or pathway areas and natural materials for building and creating art. Experts say children who learn and grow in Certified Nature Explore Classrooms enhance concentration, develop creativity and problem-solving, relieve stress and improve skills in many areas of development.
Outdoor classrooms that are designed according to standards and principles described in Dimensions Educational Research Foundation’s Learning With Nature Idea Book are eligible to become certified Nature Explore Classrooms.
The first Nature Explore Classroom is located in the Tree Adventure attraction at Arbor Day Farm, the Arbor Day Foundation’s interactive conservation venue in Nebraska City.