When putting together their annual Nature Preschool Conference for educators, the Irvine Nature Center decided it had to be fun. Early child environmental educators – like the students they teach – are full of joy, quirkiness and wonder.
The sessions then had to go beyond informative and they had to include outdoor time for the teachers, so they could play and discover as well.
With that in mind, conference activities include going on hikes throughout the property, searching for invertebrates under a log, looking up at the clouds, and painting with mud. The conference, which just had its fifth session in the summer, is open to educators nationwide. The hope is that the teachers, specifically those in nature-based preschools, to network, learn from one another and share research and best practices.
“I see the continued growth of Irvine’s professional development for educators as a highly effective way of communicating the best practices in early childhood environmental education,” Irvine’s executive director Brooks Paternotte said. “When you teach the teachers, you ensure that class after class of their students will benefit from what they learned at Irvine.”
One indirect result of the conference is the establishment of the Council of Nature and Forest Preschools whose members share best practices.