Kindergarten explores the Nature Trail

Both Kindergarten classes took a brief hike along the Nature Trail this afternoon. Kindergarteners used their senses to explore during their visit to the Crocker Conservancy. The first few days of school are great for building community and instilling a love of learning, so a nature hike is perfect for starting the year off right!

The Crocker Conservancy & the NEAL Program

Some may have the impression that NEAL is an “add-on” to our science curriculum or an outdoor education unit in our physical education program. Although both are good assumptions, NEAL (Nature Enhanced Approach to Learning) is far more unique and important than a unit or special trip and is one of the many ways that sets a Powhatan education apart from other schools.

NEAL is a lens through which we can teach any or all components of our curriculum. We use it to bring our students outside into the natural world and to bring the natural world indoors to our students. Richard Louv, well-known advocate of connecting children to the outdoors, writes in his book Last Child in the Woods about how many children today suffer from what he terms “nature deficit disorder.” He shares examples of how children are “plugged-in” to electronic devices and out of touch with the natural world.

At Powhatan, students have easy access to the outdoors and are using our campus, including the addition of the Crocker Conservancy, to map trails, read or write nature poems, adopt trees and square meters for observation of changes, record data in journals, run and walk the trails, and raise trout for release in the stream. We are continually using the lens of NEAL as we create, amend, and reflect upon our curriculum in all areas.

With the gift of the Crocker Conservancy, our NEAL program can broaden into wetland habitats, warm season grass and wild flower fields and hardwood forests. In a sense, our classroom laboratories have just increased by forty-seven acres!! What a wonderful learning venue for our students and faculty and it is just a step beyond our classroom doors. Many schools much travel hours to enjoy this type of resource, we simply walk past the playground.

Learn more about the Crocker Conservancy here: