We accept children from ages 1-5 years old. Having such a mix of ages altogether in the same space allows the younger children to be exposed to the skills of the older children, which motivates them to stand, walk and talk. It also allows the older ones an opportunity to practice caring for and understanding the needs of the younger children, which requires patience and compassion.
The other advantage of having all the children together is that they are cared for by the same people each day. It is possible for a child to start our program at aged one and experience the same caregiver on a daily basis for the next 3-4 years. By avoiding the undeniable stress that is created with frequent changes in caregiver the child can happily progress at their own rate. We also encourage visits from elders who live nearby as well as youth who are interested in working with children thereby letting the children see that they are part of a larger community of people who love and care for them.
The most important part of The Children's Garden program is the time we spend outside. We cannot emphasize enough how important we feel the outdoor component of our program is. We feel children's needs can be met just as well, if not better, outside (in suitable clothing) as they can inside. There are many opportunities for practicing gross and fine motor skills. Running, walking, skipping, climbing, bending, crawling and jumping can all occur on our daily nature walk. Making leaf boats, holding inchworms, and making a dandelion chain challenge the most dexterous children.
We never run out of questions, observations and stories whilst walking through the woods, over footbridges and creeks, through neighbors' gardens and when interacting with our neighbors as they do their daily work. Songs encourage us when we are tired or entertain us when we have an abundance of energy. The creeks and river offer many opportunities for building and modeling with sand, mud and clay. We have seen the elusive bog turtle whilst out with children as well as the blue heron that flies down the South Toe river. We have seen all sorts of baby animals at Camp Celo; calves, kids, kittens and chicks. We know where the monarch caterpillers like to hang out and where to go to fill our pockets with buckeyes, wild plums or acorns. Children's senses are fully engaged outside in the natural world, their bodies are active and their minds are alive!