Fenner Conservancy opens new nature-based preschool in Lansing
The Fenner Conservancy is opening its new preschool after renovating a building on the former Sycamore Creek Driving Range using a $47,000 grant from the Dart Foundation.
The Nature Center acquired the property last year.
“This space was meant for this,” said Emily Matthews, Executive Director of the Dart Foundation.
Executive Director of the Fenner Nature Center Liz Roxberry said the school will have a focus on getting children outdoors.
“We recognized very early on that we really needed to start working towards getting our kids engaged early in nature,” Roxberry said.
The school's curriculum will be built on connecting kids with nature along with encouraging confidence and problem solving skills as well as time for daily exercise.
“Kids are so in tune and tied into technology that very rarely do they have an opportunity to get outside and just play and be children,” Roxberry said.
We recognized very early on that we really needed to start working towards getting our kids engaged early in nature.Liz Roxberry, Fenner Nature Center
The students will learn things like they would in a traditional preschool classroom like arithmetic and colors, but educators will also use pedagogy known as the Reggio Emilia approach.
“What we do is provide children with a variety of invitations to learn,” Roxberry said. “Just through observation, we then assess where those children are at and then scaffold that learning to expand upon that knowledge."
Matthews said she hopes this school will positively impact Mid-Michigan children for generations to come.
“It’s an opportunity for them to touch, to feel, to learn through the senses,” Matthews said.
With a waitlist of more than 250 kids, Roxberry said she’s excited for the upcoming fall semester.
Genevieve's story is brought to you as part of a partnership between WKAR and Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.