“Coastal Kindergarten” was piloted in two Greater Victoria schools for three years. The program offered a total of 36 seats between South Park Family School and James Bay Community School. The pilot has now concluded and the program has ended.
The pilot program provided the Greater Victoria School District the opportunity to assess a dedicated outdoor learning program for kindergarten aged children, and a workshop for all teachers was developed to support outdoor learning programs across all schools. A number of observations were made about the program including that outdoor-inspired learning works for many children and should continue where possible, but not all at kindergarten age children are ready for it. The program also helped teachers and educational assistants to assess what level of support and preparation was needed by students and teacher to make outdoor learning successful.
Valuable insights into outdoor learning have been drawn from the pilot program. With this in mind, both pilot schools, South Park and James Bay, will endeavor to provide outdoor learning more routinely within kindergarten classes at South Park and James Bay elementary schools, and the District will endeavor to increase outdoor learning opportunities across the District to provide more access to these opportunities for all students, versus a select few. The pilot program will inform how these opportunities advance in future and each year schools will assess what can be offered within their kindergarten classes.
In addition, several Greater Victoria schools now have outdoor classrooms constructed on the school grounds to allow for traditional classes to occur outside and the new provincial K-12 education curriculum encourages hands-on learning and in areas that spark a student’s interests and passion. This encourages greater outdoor learning for especially those kids who are interested in outdoors, or for those subjects that can learned by doing or seeing in the real-world, outdoor learning would be encouraged. Opportunities for teacher learning is also occurring with workshops to assist teachers in planning for outdoor considerations (weather, travel, etc.)