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Our 1-day Summit on Connecting to Nature in an Urban World, April 19, features a morning plenary and roundtable sessions followed by interactive workshops and walkshops in the afternoon. Building on the Summit is our Conference, April 20-21, featuring keynotes speakers, hands-on workshops and networking opportunities.

Please note: Schedules are now locked from being changed. If you would like to make changes to your schedule, please come see us at the registration desk. See you in Vancouver!
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Thursday, April 20 • 9:45am - 11:00am
Diapers In the Forest: Fostering Learning Skills for Success Beginning In the Early Years FILLING
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Forest schools for toddlers as a fertile ground for developing learning skills such as grit, curiosity and self-regulation.

Academic skills are being taught to increasingly younger students. The current educational climate, which stresses the importance of rigorous learning in the preschool years in a traditional indoor setting, is impacting the mental, physical, and emotional health of the young child, while impeding the role of nature in children’s lives.

Educators from Raintree School believe in the critical role of forest schools and wild play in promoting academic achievement, and advocate for the importance of forest school, beginning in nursery, to foster learning skills that author Paul Tough calls noncognitive or “soft” skills. Skills such as grit, curiosity, and self-regulation, which are strongly cultivated during nature play, are gaining prominence as indicators fundamental for success. Recent research in neuroscience detailing the plasticity of toddler brains supports the high value of rich, sensory nature play in creating an environment that best supports learning success in young children.

avatar for Genevieve Ploch

Genevieve Ploch

Forest School Early Childhood Educator, Raintree School
Genevieve Ploch spent her childhood playing in creeks, trekking through the forest, and building snow forts during Midwestern winters. This love of nature is now shared with young children as an educator at Raintree School, a Reggio-Inspired Forest School in St. Louis, Missouri. Having... Read More →

Jenn Thrasher

Early Childhood Educator, Raintree School


Thursday April 20, 2017 9:45am - 11:00am PDT
Mackenzie (Ground Floor)