Expanded Program Combines Pre-K Education with the Natural World
Baileys Harbor & Fish Creek, Wis. (January 4, 2024) – The Gibraltar Area School Board unanimously approved the addition of a public 4K classroom at The Ridges Sanctuary for the 2024-2025 school year on Monday, December 11th, 2023. This partnership will expand Gibraltar’s offerings for free, public 4K and will present an opportunity for our community to participate in unique outdoor nature-based learning. The Ridges’ Dragonfly Nature Preschool 4K Program will join the already-established community collaborative Gibraltar 4K sites at Gibraltar Elementary and the Northern Door Children’s Center.
Dragonfly Nature Preschool is designed to provide a high-quality early childhood experience that meets young children’s developmental needs while initiating them into a life-long, meaningful relationship with the natural world. The curriculum is nature-based, play-based, and child-centered.
In a nature-based preschool program, nature is at the heart of the curriculum. The child development goals are the same at The Ridges as at Gibraltar Elementary and Northern Door Children’s Center, and the Ridges 4K site will achieve these goals through nature-based experiences. The curriculum will align with the National Association of the Education of Young Children and Wisconsin Models of Early Learning Standards as well as feature best practices in Environmental Education (as outlined by North American Association of Environmental Education, Natural Start Alliance).
Environmental Educator, Sheryl Honig from The Ridges Sanctuary notes, “We find nature to be very hands-on, REAL, sensory-rich, and therefore perfect for inspiring young children’s engagement and play. This kind of play supports collaboration, language development, natural knowledge, balance and strength, problem-solving, creativity, risk-taking and resiliency, independence, and contentment. We are outside in almost all weather for the vast majority of every morning. We play outside, we hike outside, we have circle time outside, we eat snack outside, we do art outside.”
Families interested in learning more about Gibraltar School’s 4K Community Collaboration should plan to attend an informational meeting at the Northern Door Children’s Center, 10520 Judith Blazer Dr, Sister Bay, on Thurs. Jan. 25 at 5:00 pm. Representatives from all 4K sites will be there to present program information, answer questions, and provide enrollment information. Any child who will be four years old by September 1, 2024, and live in the Gibraltar Area School District is eligible to enroll. There will be a limited number of spots available for open enrollment for interested families who live outside of the district. 4K Enrollment will begin on February 1, 2024.
About Gibraltar Area School District: Gibraltar School District serves the communities of Gills Rock, Ellison Bay, Sister Bay, Ephraim, Fish Creek, Egg Harbor and Baileys Harbor, all of which reflect a tradition of support for academics, activities, athletics, arts and cultural achievement. Governed by its own Board of Education, the district serves approximately 536 students 4K-12. Gibraltar Schools, in partnership with family and community, will ensure excellence in educating every child to become a responsible citizen who is service minded and empathetic and can contribute to our interconnected world.
About The Ridges Sanctuary: The Ridges Sanctuary is a 1,600-acre private, non-profit nature preserve located in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin. It is listed as a National Natural Landmark, Important Bird Area and Wisconsin State Natural Area. Founded in 1937, the Ridges was protected as Wisconsin’s first land trust to protect and preserve the sensitive habitat found in Baileys Harbor. Today, the Ridges continues to serve Baileys Harbor through its mission of Education, Research and Land Preservation.