Three years ago, a program began at Nature Center with one main idea in mind - get children back to playing in nature.
"Children need to play outside and this is the best way for them to get comfortable with the outdoor environment," Pilcher Park Nature Center Superintendent Debbie Greene said of Little Sprouts. "Children that play outside are statistically more healthy and have less attention problems."
The benefits of a nature-based program go beyond the obvious for children.
"They learn to be more inquisitive so that when they get to school, they can find the answer," Greene said. "They have more curiosity and a bigger desire to learn and they do really well in math and science."
Sandy Strejc appreciates the program that she describes as rich.
"I felt like the lessons were more thoroughly planned than at another preschool," she said. "Everything was interrelated.
"When they studied bats, they dressed up as bats, they went and saw bats, they watched videos on YouTube, my kids still sing the songs."
Strejc lives within the municipal boundaries of Joliet, but is outside of the boundaries.
Last year, 45 children went through the program.
"Each session is half day," Greene said. "You can combine them and turn it into a full day program, but (this year is) full in the morning.
Afternoon sessions are still available. For more information on the program, visit the Joliet Park District Web site.