Member Spotlight

Natural Beginnings Early Childhood Program

Natural Beginnings students enjoying the extended Illinois winter.

Mission Statement

Natural Beginnings' mission statement is to nurture whole child development through primary experiences with nature while initiating them into a life-long, meaningful relationship with the natural world.


Educational Philosophy

Our curriculum is designed to promote learning by providing an environment that encourages discovery and experimentation.  While exploring ten different inquiry units throughout the year, children have the chance to help shape the content by communicating their interests in the theme.  We then explore each theme by providing guided outdoor nature exploration and play and reinforcing activities to build physical, emotional, and academic skills. Developing a love of learning is of the utmost importance to our staff and is always the basis of our curriculum.  Our curriculum includes activities intended to take the children to the next level of understanding based on the children’s abilities and interests.  We encourage divergent thinking and reflection by asking open-ended questions and providing information in response to children’s ideas and insights.



  • Foster curiosity through hands-on projects and play.
  • Stimulate intellectual and physical development while participating in authentic learning opportunities.
  • Develop respect and appreciation for the natural world by way of meaningful primary nature encounters.
  • Encourage language development by letting children express themselves creatively.
  • Develop social skills as children make friends and work collaboratively.
  • Develop self confidence and a sense of success.



As Kendall County’s largest forest preserve, Hoover Forest Preserve provides an unparalleled location for nature-based learning. Children discover the wonder and beauty found in Hoover’s nearly 400 acres of prairies, woodland trails, and creeks, as well as the Fox River. This program is designed to encourage children to explore the connections between their lives and the world around them.  

By locating Natural Beginnings inside the preserve, the children have access to numerous daily experiences with plant life both inside and outside the physical classroom. Aside from daily outdoor play and exploration amid the native plant life, the children tend the outdoor gardens as well as care for the indoor plants. Natural Beginning students are inspired and guided by naturalists and teachers trained in nature education and experienced in sharing their enthusiasm for the natural world.

During outdoor exploration, children frequently have the opportunity to observe native wildlife, including White-tailed deer, Cooper’s Hawks, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies and hundreds more. In addition to those organic experiences, children will have daily experiences with animals inside the beautiful sunlit classroom. The clasroom is designed to foster more hands-on learning and open-ended play.


More Information

For any information on Natural Beginnings or on the Northern Illinois Nature Preschol Association, please call Megan Gessler at 630-553-3939.