Published on June 14, 2021

Successful Collaboration with Head Start to Expand

A Gardener Head Start student's project uses rocks to spell out their initials

Head Start students made letters out of nature objects

Thanks to the generosity of the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts (CFNCM), the sanctuary partnered with Gardner Head Start on a successful, creative collaboration during the challenging 2020-2021 school year.

The goal? To integrate nature-based teaching and learning into the school's social-emotional curriculum.

Wachusett Meadow naturalists made live, online nature visits to virtual classrooms; Head Start teachers attended professional development workshops; and families engaged with each other through virtual visits and Facebook posts.

In addition, follow-up materials encouraged families to get outside and explore the nature of their neighborhoods and local spaces.

Research consistently shows that spending time in nature improves children's emotional regulation, social interactions, problem solving, and feelings of well-being—all of which are necessary prerequisites for later success in (and out of) school.

The Nature & Social-Emotional Learning program proved to be a fantastic success. In fact, it was so successful that—thanks again to support from CFNCM—the program is expanding to additional Head Starts in Gardner, Athol, and Winchendon for the 2021-2022 school year!