LITTLE FARMERS SCHOOL
Little Farmers School is a preschool program for children three to six years of age. Children are exposed to areas of Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Math (STREAM) naturally through outdoor exploration and play. The program provides a non-competitive environment to support children's physical, emotional, social, and cognitive growth through exploration, play, and hands-on learning.
The learning objectives of the Little Farmers School are to offer nature and farm-based education to prepare farm friends for future educational and social endeavors. To do this, our program supports the development of essential skills, including:
-Early literacy, math, and science
-Communication – verbal and comprehension
-Fine and gross motor skills
-Cooperation and interdependence
-Respect for self and others
Developing these skills early helps to prepare children for future success in life and learning.
Typical Day on the Farm
Each day of learning is shaped by the changing of seasons and the classroom provided by nature. Farm friends transition through areas of the farm throughout the morning, providing a variety of opportunities to use their curiosity.
9:30 am Arrival – Children sign in by choosing a daily job and completing a hunt for their name (hidden near the chicken, duck, goat pen, and mud kitchen).
10:15 am Snack – Children naturally work on social skills while enjoying a snack brought from home.
10:30 am STREAM Time – Children explore the rabbit hutch, compost, and digging area, as well as a variety of alternating STREAM tabletop activities.
11:20 am Daily Meeting & Jobs – Children complete chosen jobs, such as song picker, attendance taker, line leader, garden helper, and weather forecaster.
11:30 am Child’s Choice – Children choose an area of the farm to explore for the remainder of the day: chicken, ducks, goats, and mud kitchen; rabbit hutch, compost, and digging; or pond and planting area.
CURIOSITY AND LEARNING IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Children are born naturally curious. Their curiosity regarding the world around them helps them to acquire early skills, like eating solid foods, walking, and eventually engaging in conversation. For most children, these early skills are not “taught”, but learned through modeling. The child’s inclination for curiosity, or innate desire to understand the world, propels them to acquire each new skill they experience.
As we cannot force a child to eat, walk, or talk before they are ready, we cannot force them to learn more advanced skills, such as reading, writing, and math. We can provide the opportunity to learn and the space to do it in, but their curiosity drives them to grow and gain more knowledge. Research suggests that the trait of curiosity can be just as important in determining a child’s academic success as is intelligence.
Fostering Curiosity in Early Childhood
-Demonstrate interest in the world. Throughout any ordinary day, a child may encounter countless exciting discoveries in the world around them. You can encourage their curiosity by mirroring their interests in the ordinary, like falling leaves in autumn and snow in winter.
-Encourage interests. Every child has individual interests. By supporting these interests, you are supporting their curiosity. If a child has an interest in bugs, you can provide a shovel and a magnifying glass for observation. If they’re curious about the weather, help them track the daily weather, find patterns, and make predictions.
-Answer their questions with a question. Children are full of questions, instead of just providing an answer, first try gauging their knowledge. You can pose your own questions such as “What do you think will happen?” and “Why do you think that is?” After pondering their response, then respond to their initial question with an answer that is suitable to their level.
-Provide an interesting environment. Curiosity will thrive in spaces that support open-ended play. Provide materials, such as mud, sticks, boxes, building supplies, or other nature items that are not designated for singular purposes. Regularly alter the environment providing opportunities for wonder, day after day.
In the preschool years, this natural curiosity serves children well, especially when paired with ample opportunity to take risks that result in new knowledge, confidence, and independence. Children at this age are sponges. They have an innate desire to soak in new experiences and build on prior knowledge. Why is the sky blue? Why do the clouds move? Why do birds sing?
In these early years, children do not need to be taught new skills or be spoon-fed information, rather they need the opportunity to experience these skills and discover new information for themselves.
At the heart of all our Barnyard Adventure programs is the desire to encourage curiosity and promote a love of learning, while supporting healthy social and emotional growth.
Are you curious to learn more? Join us for a day on the farm. Curious farm friends are always welcome!