NatureStart™ Courses

Overview

NatureStart™ is a professional development program that trains informal educators in museums, zoos, aquariums, and nature centers, along with other professionals who interact with young children and families, to develop and facilitate early childhood nature play programs, create play settings for nature-based early learning, and engage and interact with young children and their families to foster lifelong connections with nature.

Evaluations consistently show that NatureStart professional development participants:

• feel validated, confident, and excited to promote nature education,
• understand how to use nature for inquiry-based learning,
• are able to create engaging activities and environments,
• network with other educators, and
• adapt what they learned to the unique needs of their organization.

We offer both regional training opportunities and a weeklong training course at
Brookfield Zoo. The training program is approved for credit from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Conservation Education Certificate. 

Register for NatureStart™ Weeklong Course   

Register for a NatureStart Regional Course

 

Course Objectives

Participants will develop an understanding of and have the ability to demonstrate the eight competencies identified in NatureStart Professional Development program.

• To plan and implement nature play activities that are sensitive to and reflective of the individual and cultural characteristics of young children and their families.
• To plan and implement nature play activities that help young children develop empathy for living things.
• To invite active engagement with the natural world through enhancing, enriching, and facilitating sensory-rich indoor play spaces.
• To invite active engagement with the natural world through enhancing, enriching, and facilitating sensory-rich outdoor play spaces.
• To interact with young children (verbally and non-verbally) in a positive social environment while supporting their play, creativity, and learning.
• To engage parents and other family members in connecting children to nature.
To engage in reflection, open inquiry, and skill building activities for their work with young children and their families and caregivers in nature play programs.
• To develop a plan for establishing or strengthening a family nature play program in their institution that is relevant to its geographical, ecological, physical and social circumstances and has built-in supports for sustainability.
• To actively participate, as a learner and contributor, in a professional learning community focusing on developing and strengthening nature play opportunities for children and families.


Questions? For additional details please contact Marilyn Brink at 708.688.8210.