Partnering for Outdoor Play: A Case Study of Forest and Nature School Programming in the Context of Licensed Child Care in Ottawa, Ontario
AbstractThis case study examines the policy significance of a partnership between two organizations committed to improving children's learning and wellbeing through the delivery of a forest and nature school (FNS) program offered in the context of a licensed childcare program in the province of Ontario, Canada. The notion of the anthropocene is taken as a theory and practice framework which emphasizes the urgency for developing new educational strategies that respond to the current moment of ecological crisis facing human and more-than-human planetary communities on earth. Methodologically, the case study is taken up through the lens of action research, wherein the leaders of the two partnering organization participated as co-investigators of the project. Findings of the study suggest that best-practice policy in early-years forest and nature school programs broadly include, among others, the following: understanding a continuum of FNS pedagogies, working to influence regulatory disconnections between built and natural play environments, and advancing social and ecological justice values through FNS programs.