Board Members f r om  the Nature Preschool at 
Heart Centered Multi-Age attend Conference.  
Nature Preschool Board Members; Krystal Alpers, Jennifer MacDonald, Jenne Walker, Deanna Pellegrino and Dorcas Gordon.
 
Antioch  University in Keene   regularly  provides program m ing to support educator s   in the acquisition of new skills , the opportunity  to   collaborate with each other,  and  find a ffirmation for the work they do  but   a recent  event was  particularly  special.  T he 5 th  annual  "In Bloom in Keene" conference  dedicated to the educational and health benefits of children being in the natural world  could not have been scheduled  on  a more beautiful spring day .  

Board members   Jennifer MacDonald, Deanna Pellegrino, and  Jenne  Walker  from  The   Nature Preschool at Heart Centered Multi- Age in Bristol attended .     Speakers included David  Sobel , Professor at Antioch Univer sity and author of  Nature Preschool and Forest Kindergartens: The Handbook for Outdoor Learning , and Angela Hanscom , pediatric therapist and founder of  TimberNook , an internationally recognized program in the United States and New Zealand.  Angela is also the author of  Balanced and Barefoot:  How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children .  Board members also attend workshops on the benefits of nature based programs for children with spatial awareness and sensory difficulties. 
   
Hanscom   discussed her body of work, noting that through  research and observation at local schools,  she  has found today's children are noticeably weaker and their balance systems significantly underdeveloped as compared to children of previous generation s.    Hanscom  has also found that teachers report today's children becoming more aggressive on the playground and having trouble staying in their seats.   Today many children need occupational therapy and only a few of them play outdoors on a regular basis.  Hanscom believes that through regular outside time and opportunities for free creative play, many of these symptoms can be alleviated.  

Young children are not developmentally wired for the demands placed upon them in many traditional school settings.  The high stak es testing of the last decade have  left young children without time to develop in age appropriate settings.  The benefits of free play and recess have been marginalized as more time was required for inside school work.  Many children across the country only see  a total  of 20  - 30 minutes of uninterrupted recess time per day.  

Jennifer MacDonald, founder and director at Heart Centered Multi-Age says, "It is affirming to spend time with colleagues who believe in the causes that are dear to your heart.  It has been my mission since opening Heart Centered Multi-Age in 2011 to provide children of the Newfound area a place to learn and grow that would meet their developmental needs.  Children at Heart Centered Multi-Age spend a minimum of an hour a day outside with a typical day in the spring and fall featuring 2 hours of outside time.  I have always found the children make just as many gains outside as inside.  Confidence found learning to do the monkey bars or skiing from the top of Ragged Mountain always translates into the classroom, where I see motivated and determined learners.  Children at Heart Centered Multi-Age always leave our program on or above grade level academically with their passion of learning intact.  I believe our success is directly connected to the amount of time our children spend outside, whether in recess play or hiking, skiing or exploring at Little Round Top."  

Board members from The Nature Preschool at Heart Centered Multi-Age attend ed  the "In Bloom in Keene" conference  as part of the  preparation for  a new and exciting program collaboration between  Heart Centered Multi-Age  and  the Slim Baker Foundation for Outdoor Education .    The Slim Baker Lodge  and its surrounding area will  be the primary location for a nature based classroom for   three year olds that will be opening in the fall of 2016.   This partnership between Heart Centered Multi-Age and the Slim Baker  Foundation will help further the mission of providing outdoor education to the community through the Slim Baker Foundation.  

If you would like more information on any of the programs offered by Heart Centered Multi-Age or the Slim Baker Foundation, please look them up at  http://www.heartcenteredmultiage.com/nature-preschool/