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Nurture in Nature Preschool

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. Here is a good list of things to look for in a school. It is important to make sure a non-traditional preschool like this one is a good fit for your family. Here is a really good article that explains why we make play an essential part of each school day at Nurture in Nature Preschool.


  • Drop in informally to visit the Nature Center and ask questions about the preschool 9:00am - 4:00pm 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.



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.


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.  9:00am - noon
           Open to 3 and 4 year olds.
     Section B:  Mon., Wed. & Fri.  1:00pm - 4:00pm
           Open to 4 and 5 year olds.
           Additional tuition due for this section.
     Section C:  Tue. & Thu.   9:00am - noon
           Open to 3 and 4 year olds
     Section D:  Tue. & Thu.   1:00pm - 4:00pm
           Open to 4 and 5 year olds
     Section E:  Tue. & Thu.   9:30am - 12:30pm
           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.

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. Click here to see a list of potential topics.

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 commmunity. 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, click on Ditch the Academic Preschool at the bottom of this page.


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


Nature Center Preschool Kids Jumping In Puddle  FEES
  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 2017-18:
      Sections A,C,D & E - 2017-18 School Year
          $2,250 per student  ($250/month)
      Section B - 2017-18 School Year
          $3,375 per student  ($375/month)
        2017-18 Calendar

  A $50.00 registration fee is required upon awardal
  of a preschool slot. Download  Application.

  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.  Scholarship Application

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. Please ask for more information from the Preschool Director if you have questions or concerns. 

The links below help illuminate the philosophy and theories behind our Nurturing in Nature curriculum. The last link is to a map produced by the Natural Start Alliance of all self-identified nature preschools in our area.

Are you thinking about starting up a nature preschool of your own? Here is a very helpful link. 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!