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Wooded workshop works wonders

We built it and they came.

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Professors and practitioners from Seneca’s Early Childhood Education Centre have created community workshops that connect educators with nature, and merge their encounters with current child development theories.


The King Observation Lab Teaching School (KOLTS), Seneca’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) centre at King Campus recently opened a Forest School where preschoolers and toddlers are taught about land stewardship and appreciation for the outdoors — making good use of its location on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

The school first started as a seven-week pilot project designed by Prof. Louise Jupp, Forest School Practitioner Fran DeFilippis and ECE student Jessica Milburn.

As discussion about the Forest School spread among educators, Louise and Fran offered workshops to the wider community. The two-part workshop immersed educators in a forest experiences, allowing them to connect with nature and merge their encounters with current child development theories.

“These workshops are different than traditional workshops because they offer participants the opportunity to experience the restorative aspects of the Forest School for themselves, to really understand how a child would feel: immersed in nature, with the freedom to learn and the joy of discovery,” says DeFilippis.

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Thirty participants from across the province attended the workshop, including early childhood educators, Ontario Certified primary teachers, school administrators and pre-service educators. Seneca Alumni funded part of the workshop registration costs for ECE graduates.

After the workshop, participants expressed a strong interest in meeting regularly for ongoing connection and learning. Moving forward, this project offers possibilities for engaging partners on campus, the external community and share important research with the education community.

KOLTS is both a childcare centre for kids aged one to 12 and an observation lab for ECE students.

Learn more about the Forest School and KOLTS.