I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you and your family to Wild Wonders!
My name is Jess Walker, I am a Diploma Level 3 graduate of Lethbridge College Early Childhood Education Program and a Forest School Practitioner with the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada and Forest School Canada. My fully licensed and accredited nature play preschool program has been operating for five years. To me Wild Wonders is not a job it is a way of life, my passion; bringing children into the wilderness and seeing the magnetic connection between the two is captivating. Eyes full of wonder, senses fully engaged, minds open to a world of exploration, to me nothing is better then seeing their faces completely lit up and ready to jump into the adventure ahead.
Having a background in Early Childhood Education has given me the foundation to build upon my wholesome living and learning approach to teaching. I believe each child is unique and special in their very own way and should be given the freedom to explore who they are and develop their own identity; all the while having me beside them as their personal cheerleader every step of the way. My goal for each child is to develop as a whole – socially, physically, intellectually, creatively and emotionally in a nature-play-based environment, ensuring they will have a solid foundation when entering school and taking their own pathways through life.
am constantly looking for new information and programs to continue my training
on early childhood development; to ensure my program continues to grow as I do
and to guarantee I am using best practices. Reggio Emilia, Magda Gerber, Waldorf, Coyote Mentoring, and Maria
Montessori approaches are my greatest influences. I take a little bit from each
philosophy and have created my own.
My Greatest Influences
Coyote Mentoring- This philosophy developed by Jon Young uses the child's enthusiasm for the natural world as a context to actively engage the children in the learning process. It shows the importance of heightened awareness in children, and how it relates to critical thinking and problem solving. The Coyote Mentoring program involves stories, life skills, songs, and other artistic expressions that open a doorway to each child developing into their own person and enhancing their self awareness.
Reggio Emilia- Children learn from their environment. I incorporate this approach into my own program so that the children get as many learning and exploring opportunities as possible.By having a natural environment both inside and outside this ensures that the children can have a pleasant atmosphere where they themselves and families can feel understood and at ease. Children get the opportunity to interact with the environment, each other, and caregivers during their time with me. While they are interacting this gives me many chances to take what the child is saying or doing, take this information and create activities for the children to broaden their minds on the topic that they are interested in this is called emergent curriculum.
Magda Gerber- REI philosophy is based upon respect and trust between caregiver and child I want each child to feel like they are treasured and respected everyday that they come.
Waldorf- Philosophy understands that children need opportunities for self-initiated play with simple materials, a focus on real rather than virtual experiences to support the child in forming a healthy relationship to the world.
Maria Montessori- Approach puts an emphasis on independence and freedom with limits.
Forest Schools- Outdoor education delivery model in which students visit natural spaces to learn personal, social and technical skills.
I aim to provide a nurturing, secure, consistent, and home like environment for the children in my program. I do this by having small group sizes so that the children are well cared for during their day. I believe in continuity of care and education, so children become attached to their primary caregivers ensuring the child can feel comfortable coming and learning.
Children are special individuals; with this I believe children should receive individualized care and attention throughout their time with me. I appreciate that children all learn and develop at their own rates and by keeping a progress report on each child and photo documentation, I can guarantee that my planning is developmentally appropriate for each child. I plan activities based on the 5 developmental domains of a child (Social Skills, Physical Skills, Intellectual Skills, Creative Skills, and Emotional Skills) so I can help the child develop as a whole. I want each child to reach their full potential so I encourage the child to take part in a variety of activities that they can explore and manipulate. I believe children learn through PLAY!
I provide activities of all sorts, which fall into two basic categories:
1. The essential activities of daily living (Feeding, Diapering, Cleaning up after oneself, etc.) during which I work one on one with the child and focus on building a secure relationship. These activities are considered vital to the learning process by being gentle, respectful, and responsive, and to involve the child so he or she learns to be cooperative from the beginning of life.
2. Experiences that respond to the child’s individual interests and involve the senses, as well as supporting self help skills, problem solving skills, and motor development. These experiences encourage creativity and enhance cognitive development as well as socialization. These occur throughout everyday and, along with the essential activities of daily living, provide opportunities for the children’s language development in English.
I use positive child guidance techniques which means that I use redirection when a child is misbehaving. If a child purposely hurts another then the child will be taken aside to have a moment to themselves and when they have calmed down that is when we will discuss with both children what they could have done to resolve their issue.
I have an open door policy so parents are
free to come and experience what happens in their child’s life at anytime they
wish. As the child’s educator and caregiver I am always willing to talk to the parents and
keep the parents updated on how their child is doing.
I want each child to be inspired by the natural world, this is why most of our day is spent outdoors immersed beautiful nature!
I am dedicated to facilitating a meaningful connection to the natural world.
Each child is an extraordinary individual and every aspect of his or her development is equally important. My goal is to foster each child’s unique growth and development potential.
I strongly believe in caregiver parent communication, confidentiality and respect.
I want to promote early learning activities that support understanding and respect for others, the environment, and each individual and involve parents in their child’s early learning experiences.
I am committed to ongoing professional development. Keeping up with the latest childcare techniques and lessons will ensure that I continue to use best practices with the children.
I strive to provide a happy, healthy, safe environment for the children in my care.
I like to have all the curriculum areas you would find in a traditional kindergarten within my own play spaces. Each curriculum area promotes certain ways of learning ensuring the child is growing and learning as a whole (socially, physically, emotionally, intellectually, creatively)
If you have not yet read the Happy Bucket Book I highly recommend it, it has truly inspired me to take being respectful to the next level. Promoting the books moral lesson we are developing a knowledge base on respect at an early age that the children can take with them as they grow. Each child has their own bucket and when they have been caught doing something good it gets written down and placed in a bucket to be read at the end of each month, creating intrinsic motivation to continue to respect themselves, others and the environment.