Granby is known and loved as an extraordinary small town with over 30 farms, an abundance of nature trails and an interdependent community rich in service to others. Why not use Granby’s impressive assets as resources and classrooms? This bold concept is becoming a reality as a new preschool infuses the town’s longstanding values of farm, nature and community with education for young children.
Granby Nature Preschool is a farm and nature program based at Holcomb Farm. Starting in September, it will be one of the programs offered through the Granby Parks and Recreation Department. Holcomb Farm, with its sustainable community-based vegetable gardens and some 300 acres of meadows, forests and trails, offers the perfect setting for a farm and nature school for area children aged three to five. It will be offered as a five-day program, with full or half-day options.
The program founders developed this concept with the belief that children learn best in a place-based, experiential environment, using the concepts and skills of the Connecticut Standards of Learning as a guide. Daily walks in the meadows and woods will inspire close observation, discussion, comparison and classification skills and lead to deep understanding of relationships and interdependence.
Tending a garden invites data collection and hypothesizing while fostering appreciation of food sources and healthy eating. Possibilities for extension include transforming knowledge through symbolic play, music, movement, and art. And, of course, being outdoors every day is just plain healthy!
GNP also wants to collaborate with the other rich resources within the community. Granby has artists, storytellers, musicians, photographers, gardeners and nature lovers of all sorts. The preschool will be reaching out to the farms and to the thoughtful creative members of the community who would like to share in the adventure of learning. In return, we invite you to reach out with questions, offers, and ideas.
The collaboration with Granby Parks and Recreation and Holcomb Farm to give the children at GNP the daily extended outdoor time that they need and deserve is exciting. With the help of local citizens and businesses, Granby Nature Preschool will be a sanctuary of healthy living and active learning. Use of the town’s greatest assets as a classroom, and its examples of community service as a model, provide an ideal learning environment for the young citizens of our future.
Amanda Hochschartner is the founding director of Granby Nature Preschool. As a student and teacher, she learned and taught in farm and garden, and field and forest settings. Her MEd Action Research Project —How can the music of nature enhance expressive communication in children?—underscores her belief that children can learn to slow down, observe intentionally, and expand their minds to find deeper learning while making connections between their own communities and themselves through multiple channels of expression.