New 'nature-based' elementary school opening in Nanaimo

(Nanaimo Innovation Academy)

A new elementary school is slated to open in Nanaimo next fall, with a focus on outdoor and "nature-based" learning.

The independent school, Nanaimo Innovation Academy (NIA), will open for the 2022 – 2023 school year with room for 32 children ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 3.

The school says its unique programming makes sure that "at least half the day or more" is spent outdoors at local greenspaces, beaches, or other ecosystems.

The students are accompanied by both a teacher and "forest educator," according to NIA, and the school has its own bus to take kids on their daily outings.

"This truly is a unique opportunity for children in Nanaimo," said Keely Freeman, founder and executive director of NIA in a statement Tuesday.

"Our school is designed for children to get muddy and play outside in nature every day, where teachers love to learn alongside their students, and where the education is inspired by a child’s interests and passions."

Children at NIA will be divided into two classes of 16 students each, with one class being for kids in Kindergarten and Grade 1, and the other being for kids in Grades 1 to 3.

The school plans to add classes for more grades in the years to come.