Outdoor Education at The Learning Center

The Learning Center has always fully embraced the notion that engaging children with the natural world is an essential component to child development.  From outdoor educational programs with specialists to playing in the local park or reading and writing in the library yard, the school seeks to deliver as much high-quality outdoor time as possible. 

The Outdoor Classroom

Our new school site is nestled into 4 beautiful acres with 2 wooded ravines, each with its own stream, open grass areas, and a rich diversity of fauna and flora. With our future vegetable gardens, wildflower meadow, fruit orchard, chickens, and bees, the school will become a rich and diverse haven for learning outside. 

Additionally, the school borders a 60-acre property of the French Creek Valley Conservancy with whom we are partnering to expand our learning environment.

While the new space gives endless opportunities for classes to pick up and move outside at any moment, our predominant approach to outdoor learning will be through the philosophy of Forest School.

Forest School is a specific process in which children are given the space to engage with the natural world on their own terms. In the words of the UK-based Forest School Association, “Forest School is a child-centered inspirational learning process that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner-inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.”  The Forest School approach is a perfect match for The Learning Center’s educational philosophy, where children have the opportunity to shape their own learning. 

forest school video still


Forest School Philosophy

Greeting Grandmother Oak, we step into the hilltop woodland overlooking the gently running stream in the ravine below, as the children once again begin their weekly Forest School session. This is a place we know well, a place we are comfortable in, with people we are comfortable sharing the space with. Here we have shelter, warmth, shade, and above all, space to explore and play.  We build community as we share food and chat around the fireside.  We acknowledge and assess risk by climbing, crawling, and swinging. We use tools to craft the things we need, and our hands to get dirty as we dig and create. At Forest School we revel in the wonders of the natural world through stories, our imagination, and our friendships, building a deep-seated respect and understanding of the world around us.