Values and Mission
Saplings acknowledges with deep respect and gratitude that we explore and learn on the unceded, traditional, and ancestral territory of the Coast Salish people, including the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam nations.
By attending to our everyday small encounters with others (including animals, plants, and places) and recognizing how the world affects us – even as we affect it, we reorient ourselves within the thinking that humans and nature are one.
Affrica Taylor, Reconfiguring the natures of childhood.
- Excellence: We pursue excellence in everything we do.
- Inclusiveness: We treat everyone fairly. We respect, reflect, and appreciate the diversity in our community.
- Accountability: We strive to be approachable, and to make our processes and decisions as open and transparent as possible.
- Authenticity: We provide meaningful and relevant learning experiences.
- Innovation: We pursue innovation by encouraging curiosity and a spirit of inquiry.
- Community Engagement: We forge connections with our community and welcome their input.
- Outdoors: The importance of learning with, in, and from our outdoor environment.
- Multiple ways of being: We value the many symbolic languages of students.
- Documentation: We understand the importance of making learning visible and strive to use pedagogical documentation whenever possible
The Saplings education program sets guiding principles and practices for both educators and students. These principles are intended as an “open framework” that teams of students and staff are free to adapt to the constantly evolving situational needs and conditions of their class and working environment.
Saplings’ students will practice “Active Learning” based on the belief that students learn best through active experiences with people, materials from the natural world, events, and emerging ideas. Through making choices about their materials, activities, and learning throughout their days by pursuing their personal interests and goals within a framework of skills and thinking strategies, students engage in their educational process. Throughout this process, students explore, ask and answer questions, solve problems, and interact with other classmates and community members. In this type of environment students naturally engage in “key experiences” which foster developmentally important skills and abilities.
Saplings mission is to foster a sense of wonder, vitality and joy into the young student’s educational experience by supporting their fundamental need to explore, discover, share and create. By taking students outside the traditional classroom and into a dynamic natural environment, students deepen their relationship with nature, themselves, one another, their community and the world,while building resilience, practicing balance, and enjoying social growth.
Saplings seeks to help grow and support the ever-changing child with our dynamic, experiential curriculum. By fostering a student’s sense of curiosity that promotes life-longing learning and interests, we aim to ensure that every student, as is their right, will experience the natural world as part of their education now and into the future.
Saplings aspires to foster a student’s lifelong connection to place by using the materials around us to learn while we explore our local community’s natural playground. By fostering an intimate daily relationship with the natural world, suffused with observations and questions, our indoor and outdoor classrooms are saturated with emergent moments of inquiry, sensory entanglements, spontaneous learning opportunities, provocative conversations, and meaningful connections.
These connections to self, others, and place foster students’ lifelong understanding of the need for sustainable practices, while at the same time attending to their social-emotional needs. Seen as imaginative, inquisitive, and resourceful agents, students are given opportunities to link what they are thinking about to what they already know by operating fully with and in place.
Saplings’ students become intimately tied to their natural environment, the beautiful North Shore of Vancouver, where they learn about themselves, take important risks, develop empathy, hone a sense of wonder, and develop a meaningful relationship with the earth. Based on the idea that nature is a powerful teacher and challenging the idea that we as humans are separate from it, Saplings invites children into the natural world as a classroom.
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