At Westbrook Nature School, we believe the young child is naturally motivated to engage with the world in ways that go beyond their own self-interest. We believe this natural instinct carries children toward realizing their full human potential. To nurture this potential, Westbrook teachers provide children with experiences that invite them to participate in the natural world. Learning the calls of the birds, frogs, and other animals who live nearby not only focuses the child’s attention, it opens the child up to the beauty and wonder of animal communication, creating a sense of connection with the natural world. Teachers model gratitude and compassion when they, with the help of the children, offer a gift of food for the animals at the end of the school day, or plant an extra row of corn outside the school fence for animal visitors to browse.
A sense of gratitude is nurtured when the child sees a planted seed grow into a beautiful, ripe vegetable that he harvests for the daily snack. Or when she sees the wheat berries that she ground into flour transformed by her hands into dough and then a hot, steaming loaf of bread that she shares, after a blessing of thanks in community with her friends and teachers.
At Westbrook, we believe that when the child’s experiences truly meet their learning and developmental needs, they will naturally develop empathy, true connections with their peers, habits of caring and generosity, as well as resilience, adaptability, and character.