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Kids in Vegetable Farm
Children have a right to their relationship with the outdoors

Learn more about the advocacy in Outdoor Education in Early Childhood

Nature-Based Education
for all

"A nature-based early childhood education program takes an immersive approach, putting nature at the heart of the program. In a nature-based early education program, nature is a setting for the program and an object of study. In addition, the care and protection of nature and the environment are regarded as a key outcome of the program, along with healthy child development. Some describe these nature-based early education programs as learning in nature, about nature, and for nature."         


 - Natural Start Alliance

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What Is Nature-Based Education?

Learning with nature (otherwise known as forest kindergarten, place-based education, or nature-based education) has been around for decades and offers children health benefits from time spent in nature along with the skills children need to succeed in school. Many of the physical, cognitive, and social developmental benefits that come with nature-based learning are unique when compared to what children experience and learn in a traditional indoor environment.

Access to the benefits of nature-based learning should be available to all. Currently, this is not the case and the “nature gap” often falls on racial and socioeconomic lines. Through the creation and implementation of a nature-based license, we create an institutional way to address financial, logistical, and cultural barriers and increase access for families.

Simply put, licensure will ensure that access to nature isn't simply a luxury for some but rather an educational option for all children and their families. 

Who uses nature-based models?

A variety of program types can offer a nature-based approach to early education, and may be called nature preschools, place-based schools, nature kindergartens, or forest kindergartens. The programs may be located in nature centers, in homes, in community centers, in parks, on farms in public schools, or in a variety of other settings. Regardless of the setting, nature-based educations share key characteristics including: dual goals of promoting child development and environmental literacy, using nature as the central learning theme, spending a significant portion of the instructional time outdoors, employing a child-led play-based approach driven by children's interest, and recognizing the benefits of children's healthy appropriate risk taking. 

-Natural Start Alliance 

About Us

Image by Holly Mandarich

What are we up to?

From nature-based coaching to policy advocacy, incorporating as a non-profit, building peer-to-peer networks of support and more... we are so proud of our growth in this first year.


Coaching & Training

From nature-based coaching to developing trainings, we are excited to be developing PD that meets the needs of diverse program types across the state.

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Get Involved

For programs that operate fully outdoors, such as forest preschools - from family home providers to center based and beyond- we are working towards pathways which will serve the needs of all our communities best.


Outdoor Biology Class

Who is the Collective?

Many programs exist around the state that operate in a variety of ways to support nature-based education. Indoor classrooms to programs in public parks, we want to support the wonderful work that is already underway.

Our Story

The Colorado Collective for Nature-Based Early Education is comprised of educators, coaches and parents across CO who have a passion for supporting the equity and expansion of nature-based education.  The Collective began as a way of bringing professionals in the industry together and has grown as the mission and pathways to achieving equity and access to nature-based education have become more clear: licensing, coaching, professional development, networking, and an going reflective practice inclusive of parent feedback, practitioner feedback, and research.

Contact the Collective with Questions or Comments

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