The Alliant Energy Foundation Funds Fall Preschool Trips

At Welty, we love our program partners and the opportunity to design activities that are fun and meaningful to their participants. Creating nature experiences for preschoolers is one of those activities that really emphasizes how important being outdoors is to child development. We are happy to announce that the Alliant Energy Foundation is funding fall field trips for Head Start and Even Start classrooms!

Head Start eligibility is based on family income at or below poverty level. Even Start Family Literacy Program is a partnership between Blackhawk Technical College and the School District of Beloit that serves the preschool-age children of adult English-language learners (the majority of whom are native Spanish-speakers). Families facing these economic and language challenges are rarely represented at WEC day camps or paid public programs, so this funding gives WEC the opportunity to develop relevant material for an audience with different needs.

 In March, Head Start students came to Big Hill and investigated what/who might live in a dead log.

Providing nature experiences for preschoolers is an activity…

This will be our second full-year of hosting field trips for both HS and ES at the same time, and these are favorites of our program staff. Nature subjects make intriguing lessons that inspire children to retain the material; for example, preschoolers are learning numbers, so we include counting exercises while on Big Hill hikes (“how many birds in this tree, let’s count”). For verbal literacy content, leaders read a book each trip, so children hear a story and see words and pictures that relate to the experience they just had outside.

…that demonstrates how important being outdoors is to child development.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the opportunity to work on social and emotional development; students get a sense of themselves and their relationship to the natural world. HS and ES teachers are especially interested in the effects of outdoor time on behavior, and are looking for ways to strengthen the children’s ability to self-regulate and empathize with others. Teachers target specific behaviors they’d like to encourage (cooperation, taking turns, emotional regulation, focus), and we include outdoor activities that reinforce these actions

Last year, we had to shift between Big Hill Park, classrooms, and virtual visits, so we are very happy to be planning for fully in-person trips at the Center this fall. Mr. Aaron needs to get his sneakers ready (this is a crowd that loves to run)!

Brenda Plakans
Executive Director, WEC