Helping Kids Learn Complex Concepts
by Katie Knight
Butterfly Christian Preschool (BCPS) in Austin, TX, offers an unusually nuanced and complex education because the children primarily learn in a natural setting. Instead of simply memorizing primary and secondary colors indoors, these two-, three- and four- year olds learn the subtle differences between mint green, chartreuse and forest green. Principal Jeanne Grevlos says --
“Nature offers a subtlety of color and shade differentiation; this is very abstract”.
The teachers at BCPS, for example, will pick up a leaf during nature walks and ask the children what color it is. The kids can point to a forest green chosen from an array of green paint samples on a palette. While the children socialize, play and learn outdoors under BCPS' thick tree canopy, they can also choose to paint on an easel.
Often these preschoolers will add juniper needles, oak leaves and sticks to their artworks. These elements, a part of the ecosystem they learn and play in, naturally become incorporated into their awareness. Children here quickly learn how leaves and pinecones can become stamps that lift up paint to make negative space. This makes for art that is more textured and detailed than simply mixing primary colors on white paper.
Being and learning in nature offers a more enriching education children simply cannot experience in an indoor classroom. It is principal Grevlos' belief that learning in nature builds a greater and more lasting relationship in each child with God's Creation.
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
-- Pablo Picasso
Related article: How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain
edited by Chris Searles
cover photo by Tim Laman