Nanaimo Forest Kids takes early childhood education outside

By Dan Marshall
October 5, 2016 - 6:18am Updated: October 5, 2016 - 2:07pm

NANAIMO — Connecting young children with nature is one of the goals of Nanaimo Forest Kids.

It's a new early childhood education program that takes place outdoors at Westwood Lake Park and Linley Valley.

Nanaimo Forest Kids director Vanessa Pearson says the first semester of the program runs three days a week until the end of December.

“A typical day is playing in the forest,” said Pearson. “We do wandering, exploring, building forts, finding bugs, listening for birds. Whatever grabs the children's attention is where we take the curriculum.”

Programs like this for pre-school age kids have been around since the 1950's in Europe, and there are other island programs in Comox, Tofino, and Victoria.

Pearson says program exposes children to a world far away from our screens and devices.

“It's a total disconnect when they come out in the forest. You notice in the first month that they hear the birds and they smell the cedar trees, and they become open to all the things that are going on in the forest. Even their desire to try new things,” said Pearson.

There is a ratio of five children for every one instructor at Nanaimo Forest Kids and there are still spaces available for this session, the first ever in Nanaimo.

All the details of the program are available online at

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