Learning Through Our Local

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It’s not a secret that technology has becomes a bigger part of our lives, which has resulted in children getting outside less and less. As a result, despite our ability to connect with people from across the world, we have lost an appreciation for the local,  for one another and our environment. By making an effort to familiarize our children (and ourselves) with the world around us, we can gain new perspectives, responsibilities, and insights of how to make our little piece of the world a better place.

Place-based education is an approach to learning that encourages discovery, inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration. Much like learning through play, children learn through the local. By engaging with our neighborhood, it’s people, places and spaces that make these environments special, children gain an understanding of who they are, where they come from, and what is important to them.

This sort of programming cannot be found in textbooks or traditional classrooms, but rather, in neighborhoods, parks, shorelines, schools and community gardens. Local institutions like our libraries, museums, zoo’s, aquariums, and community based organizations add another layer to this learning and a vibrancy to the local that illuminates a child’s imagination, and our own. By learning about our cities, educators and students can discover how we have shaped our streets, places to shop, parks, roads and highways, as well as how they all connect with one another, to make-up the places we call home. The goal is, and should always be, to foster environmental literacy, raise awareness about local environmental problems and engage children (and their families) in a discussion about sustainable and healthy lifestyles.

At Kindertown, our new Spring and Summer Program embraces this approach to learning. Each day, our preschoolers are out in the community, meeting neighbors, exploring local wildlife and spending time in our Kinder Garden. Each month, we have a special trip planned that will take us out of our neighborhood and across the city to local landmarks, museums and community organizations. Our hope is that by exploring our hometown of Hamilton, we can do our part to make this the best place to raise a child, be a child and age successfully!

Paul Russumanno