At Gnomies, we create a holistic, child-centered, hands-on learning environment, with a focus on nature, sustainability, and the environment. The children’s interests serve as a springboard for our evolving, emergent curriculum, where they spend days to weeks engaged in thought-provoking play and project-based learning. Within each program, children learn from each other, honing their social skills and problem solving abilities, and understanding the concepts of friendship, cooperation, and inclusion. We provide a safe place for children to make self-motivated choices for play, thereby building independence and self-help skills. The stimulating environment provides opportunities to explore art and play materials, manipulatives, and nature. Mastery of fine motor skills and gross motor skills begins to emerge as children use familiar materials in new and creative ways.
Our program also places a heavy emphasis on outdoor education, instilling a positive regard for the environment by becoming ecologically literate citizens who have a sense of ownership and stewardship of the earth. Weekly, we walk to Ragle Ranch Park, where we engage in unstructured and open-ended lessons: exploring in a grove of redwoods, climbing the California oaks, hiking the Blackberry Trail, studying various birds and wildlife, and building forts with natural, found materials of the forest.
Children who immerse themselves in a natural and ever-changing environment simply have more opportunities to learn new things in new ways. Being outdoors provides expanded opportunity for physical exploration. Inspiration is everywhere in the change of seasons and cycles of life, and children develop a bond with nature as they begin to understand their place within it.