About a year ago I rediscovered my childhood dream of becoming a teacher. Shortly after, I learned about a preschool in Vashon, WA - Cedarsong Preschool. I began researching Forest Kindergartens and completely fell in love with the idea.
I live in Montana, a state known for its big sky country and the outdoors. Although there are programs such as the Montana Outdoor Learning Center and Montana Outdoor Science Schools, they only operate on a part-time basis – such as for summer camps and after school programs.
With that said, my goal is to start a full-time (with part-time options and flexibility of course) outdoors/nature-based preschool/Kindergarten in Helena, MT within the next one to three years. My plan is to start with the preschool and Kindergarten programs but my hopes are that the demand and interest will grow so that the school may also slowly expand to include higher grade levels. I want to incorporate various methods such as Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio-Emilia, Project Approach, etc. Oh and how could I forget Place-Based. I have been inspired by places such as Cedarsong Preschool, various Forest Kindergartens in Europe and other countries, Richard Louv, and most recently the Children & Nature Network.
So although I know where I am going, I am not exactly sure how to get there. Other than taking Early Childhood Classes, which I am currently doing and hope to have a degree by May of 2013, I really do not know where to start. Here is a bit of my background so far…
Over the past 10 years, I have completed all but one science class for my general education requirements. In September of 2011 I began classes in the Early Childhood Education program. It has been an incredible journey to say the least. I become more passionate every day and have never been so certain of anything in my life. At 27 years old, I now know what my purpose in life is.
I am so certain that I quit my 40 hour office job in the student loan industry so that I may solely focus on my dreams. My last day was 1/27/12. Losing one income required that we pull our two sons out of the private preschool & Kindergarten they were attending. Rather than enrolling our oldest into public school Kindergarten with only about three months remaining of the school year, I decided to put to use my education about early childhood and homeschool both children at least until the end of this summer and start of next school year. I began researching various homeschool methods and came across a book from the library called "Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves" and have again completely fallen in love with this idea.
Since having quit my job, I also spend my days volunteering in early childhood settings so I may get a feel for the various methods, environments, etc.