Nature-based early learning degree for University of Cincinnati - is Australia next?
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Nature-based early learning degree for University of Cincinnati – is Australia next?

by Freya Lucas

August 16, 2022

The University of Cincinnati (UC) Online has  opened a new nature-based early learning concentration in the Associate and Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education (birth to five years of age) programs. 


UC is the first university in the country to offer nature-based, online Early Childhood Education degrees, which could also benefit those studying in Australia. 


“Nature-based learning in the early childhood education (ECE) profession is growing,” said UC Program Coordinator Kathleen Bryan. 


With research confirming the need for children to be immersed in nature to learn about the world around them and develop a sustainability ethic for the Earth, the degree is designed to equip educators with environmental knowledge, eco-pedagogies, and resources to teach and administer formal and informal learning settings where nature is embraced — from programs with green playgrounds to forest schools.


“Studies show teachers need environmental knowledge and pedagogies to effectively engage children in nature-based learning that reflects best practices in the field,” Ms Bryan continued. 


The curriculum builds on the essential developmentally appropriate practices core of the UC Online programs including:


  • Implementing a play-based approach to learning
  • Supporting children to reach their full potential across all domains of development
  • Designing and implementing high-quality learning environments
  • Inclusive of all families to be culturally, linguistically, and ability appropriate.


The aim is for graduates to become comfortable in the role of teacher/naturalist educators who can plan and implement progressive and interdisciplinary curricula in natural settings in ways that view children as capable, able to problem-solve and make decisions that affect their own lives.


Coursework builds upon professional practice standards and research studies — specifically, studies conducted on teacher and children’s experiences in nature playscapes and at a nature preschool by faculty and researchers at the Arlitt Center.


For more information about the Degree, please see here

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