Golden workshop aims to bring the classroom outside

A workshop hosted by the Early Childhood Development Coalition stresses the importance of nature in education and development.

Outside time used to be just for recess, but a workshop hosted by Golden’s Early Childhood Development Coalition is suggesting that nature aids in education and development as well.

“If you want to teach math, you don’t have to do it in a classroom setting. You can do it in nature, counting pine cones and counting types of trees. The research has indicated quite clearly that children require interaction with the natural environment,” said Joanne McCullough, co-ordinator for the ECDC. “It’s very good for their social and emotional development, their physical development, their problem solving. It’s physically good for their bodies to be in nature.”

The ECDC is bringing in the workshop, called Growing up Wild, and hopes that educators, child care providers, and parents will find it informative and helpful.

“It’s an American educational program that’s been adopted by a group in B.C. called Wild B.C. out of Victoria. They have facilitators around the province who teach this course for them,” said McCullough. “The intent of this workshop is to inform early childhood educators and child care providers, and parents how to utilize the natural environment as an educational tool.”

In the past, children were placed in classroom with fluorescent lighting, removing them from nature, says McCullough. And even though schools and teachers have made an effort to bring natural elements into the classroom, it can be taken one step further.

“This is more of a push to take them out of the classroom, out of the child care centre, and into nature. Regardless of the weather and season, there’s opportunities to be outside all the time,” said McCullough. “I think parents could really benefit from this, parents with young children, because it’s going to give then tools to take their children into nature, and use these tools to engage them.”

The workshop is taking place on Thursday August 30 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the College of the Rockies. The cost is $40, and includes reference materials to take home.

For more information or to register, go to, or email