Preschool at Tacoma Nature Center
About the Nurture in Nature Preschool
Our mission is to provide a high-quality early childhood environment that meets preschoolers’ needs, while inspiring them to love nature.
Place your child in this warm, nurturing environment that offers diverse natural habitats, outstanding teachers and staff, and unique, hands-on learning programs. We strive to offer experiences and opportunities that allow children to learn and grow at their own pace. We encourage their endless curiosity, and plant the seeds to help them become lifelong learners.
Choosing a preschool can be hard. It is important to make sure a non-traditional preschool like this one is a good fit for your family.
- Here is a good list of things to look for in a school.
- Here is a really good article that explains why we make play an essential part of each school day at Nurture in Nature Preschool.
Learn more about us
Drop in informally to visit the Nature Center and ask questions about the preschool 9 am – 4 pm Monday thru Saturday, or make an appointment with the Preschool Director by calling (253) 404-3930.
Please note that private tour times are extremely limited as we only offer them when preschool is not in session and the classroom is set-up. We do not offer tours if we are full for the next school year or if there are upcoming Open House events. 2020 Open House events are on 2/8 and 2/26. Details in registration section.
Registration for the 2019-20 school year:
- 2019-20 Calendar and tuition rates
- Registration for the 2019-20 school year is complete and all slots are now full.
- Waitlist applications for the current year will be accepted for all sections. Use this form:
Preschool Application Form_19-20
Registration for the 2020-21 school year will be as follows:
- 2020-21 Calendar_DRAFT
- Re-enrollment for existing students is January 6 – 31, 2020. Forms are available here and at the Nature Center. Placement is not guaranteed and is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Preschool Re-enrollment Form_20-21.docx
- Applications for Siblings of existing and former students are accepted February 10 – 28, 2020. Forms are available here and at the Nature Center. Placement is not guaranteed and is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Sibling Application Form_20-21.docx
- Applications for new students will be accepted from January 1 – March 12, 2020. Applications are available here and at the Nature Center. Placement is by lottery. Applicant families must attend an Open House*, pay the application fee, and be present at the lottery on March 17, 2020. Details on application. Preschool Application Form_20-21.docx
*Open House dates are Saturday, February 8 from 11:00am – 1:00pm and Wednesday, February 26 from 6:00 – 8:00pm. Drop in any time during the Open House with no reservations needed. Children welcome. Be sure to sign in to get credit for attendance.
Research shows that children who spend time in nature pay attention better, think more clearly, and are able to cope more effectively with stress.
At the Nurture in Nature Preschool, our unique program combines the best of hands-on outdoor and nature education with traditional academic concepts. Read more in our Curriculum section below. What exactly is a Nature Preschool? Click here for a detailed explanation.
Each section has a maximum* of 12 children, with two teachers per class.
*Our all-outdoor Section E is the exception with 16 students and 3 teachers.
The resources below help illuminate the philosophy and theories behind our Nurturing in Nature curriculum. The last resource is to a map produced by the Natural Start Alliance of all self-identified nature preschools in our area.
- Children & Nature Network
- The Movement to Restore Children’s Play from the New York Times
- Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills by Alix Spiegel on NPR
- Ditch the Academic Preschools byJanet Lansbury
- Outdoor preschool takes root on Vashon Island by Susan Gilmore for The Seattle Times
- Grow Up Resilient from Wild Earth Blog
- Natural Start Alliance
Are you thinking about starting up a nature preschool of your own? Here is a very helpful article.
Nurture in Nature Preschool staff is happy to talk about our preschool with interested parties but appreciate it when people have done some research before they come to us!
Email us at email@example.com
Nurture in Nature preschool offers many opportunities for parental involvement through volunteering on committees and assisting in special activities.
We offer part-day classes for 3 to 6 year olds. Children must be three by September 1 of the year they enroll and must be toilet trained. We are a nine-month program and require a commitment to a full school year (September – May).
Children may be enrolled for only one section
Please note age restrictions for each section
- Section A
Mon. & Wed. 9 am – noon
Open to 3 and 4 year olds.
- Section B
Mon., Wed. & Fri. 1 – 4 pm
Open to 4 and 5 year olds.
Additional tuition due for this section.
- Section C
Tue. & Thu. 9 am – noon
Open to 3 and 4 year olds
- Section D
Tue. & Thu. 1 – 4 pm
Open to 4 and 5 year olds
- Section E
Tue. & Thu. 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
All Outdoor Section
Open to any student who turns 4 by November 1
*Pre-K classes are designed for children with some preschool or similar experience. The classes are more structured with increasingly advanced concepts and activities. Pre-K classes are not recommended for 4 year olds with no previous similar experiences.
Sample Daily Schedule
- 30-35 minutes Greeting and free-play exploration (or transition to outdoor classroom)
- 10 minutes Clean-up (or exploration of outdoor classroom)
- 30 minutes Opening circle time
- Nature activity (group)
- Daily jobs
- 30 minutes Bathroom/Transition for snack
- 15 minutes Reading/Prep for outside (or free-choice time)
- 55 minutes Outside exploration (walk/play or activity)
- 5 minutes Closing circle and Recap of Day
- Section A
As a nature-based preschool, we do not follow a set curriculum. We are discovery based and child-driven. However, there are many topics that we focus on throughout the year on a pre-scheduled basis or as the interests of the children and our discoveries give us opportunities.
Our emergent child-inspired curriculum often follows the changing seasons and exciting things that are happening in and around our building and grounds, is reflective of our currently enrolled families, and is amplified by our ever-changing climate.
As our curriculum builds off of our gained/learned information, attendance is key to gleaning the most of our unique program.
We do not recommend this program for those who will be taking a more drop-in approach to school.
Barring illness, and vacations that cannot happen during scheduled breaks, students are best served being here for all class dates through the whole school year.
Although traditional academic skills and opportunities are part of our school, they are definitely not the focus. Please read about our learning objectives to get an idea of what we regularly work on with our students.
Our goal is to meet each individual child where they are and assist with moving them forward with their skills.
Our philosophy is that preschoolers learn and grow through play, discovery and learning how to be part of a community. When their brain is ready, they will naturally gravitate towards more academic pursuits. We will be ready for them with plenty of opportunities.
When looking at the actual research, it is clear that more structured academics belong in elementary school and beyond. That is when a child’s brain is ready for it! Again, we provide opportunities for traditional academics and elements are woven throughout each school day, but we do not focus on academics and do not expect our “graduates” to reach certain academic targets before they leave us. If that is important to you, we strongly suggest you find another preschool with a different philosophy than ours.
Excerpt from a article linked below: “Funneling academics down to preschools to “better prepare” children to deal with an already overly academic Kindergarten experience is a waste of time, and this “miseducation”, as Dr David Elkind refers to it in Miseducation- Preschoolers at Risk, can cause “damage to a child’s self-esteem, the loss of the positive attitude a child needs for learning, the blocking of natural gifts and potential talents.”
For full article read Ditch the Academic Preschools by Janet Lansbury.
Tuition is due monthly by the 15th of the previous month with the August payment due on the first. A five percent discount applies to tuition
paid in full for the entire school year by August 1.
Tuition for 2019-20
- Sections A,C,D & E* – 2019-20 School Year
Paid in advance (by 8/1) $2,334 per student
Paid monthly $$273 per month
- Section B – 2019-20 School Year
Paid in advance (by 8/1) $3,546.35 per student
Paid monthly $415 per month
*Optional Sect. E partial-year additional day add $866
A $50.00 registration fee is required upon award of a preschool slot.
Additionally, families must belong to the Friends of the Tacoma Nature Center. Household memberships are currently $35 per year.
Some tuition scholarship assistance is available. Registration and membership fees are not eligible for financial assistance.
- Sections A,C,D & E* – 2019-20 School Year
We require every family to provide a current immunization form for each enrolled child before our first scheduled school day. Due to recent societal concerns for the safety of vaccines, there have been some changes in Washington State requirements for exemptions and the appropriate documents required.
You can review the requirements and allowable exemptions here.
Please contact the Preschool Director if you have questions or concerns.