Fredericksburg Parent

November 2023

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16 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • November 2023 WRITTEN BY EMILY FREEHLING Ask the Expert a sk t h e e x p e rt Time outdoors has been identified as a tonic able to soothe a diverse array of chal- lenges. Researchers have found that time spent in nature has the power to reduce our stress levels, improve mood, calm anxiety, boost attention span, improve our sleep—and the list goes on. Children spend nearly one-third of their day at school, making the learning environment a prime opportunity to increase their exposure to the outdoors. Fredericksburg Academy has taken this challenge head-on. Over the past several years, the independent Pre-K-12 school located in Spotsylvania County has strategi- cally increased the amount of time students spend outdoors on the school's 44-acre campus. These opportunities have been carefully planned to augment the school's academic curriculum, aimed at building capable, life-long learners. This looks different at every age. This fall, prekindergarten students took to the school's Natural Playscape with magnifying glasses, exploring leaves, bugs and other tiny wonders of the world around them. Fourth and fifth graders geared up and headed to the Fredericksburg Quarry for paddleboarding outings that tied in with writing and science lessons. Middle and Upper School science students regularly col- lect and analyze data from Deep Run Creek on campus, including tree species iden- tification, macroinvertebrate surveys, mammal tracking using wildlife cameras, and citizen science water quality testing for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Visit campus on any given day, and you'll find something interesting going on in the great outdoors. As our November Expert, FA First Grade Teacher Brittany Austin talks about what motivates her to infuse her lesson plans with outdoor opportunities, and how she sees it impacting students. School Builds on Opportunities to Learn in Nature's Classroom Bri any Aus n, M.Ed. and cer fi ed nature-based educator, with students at Deep Run Creek on FA's campus.

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