Preschool in West Los Angeles
We offer a high-quality preschool in West Los Angeles for children ages three to five years old. Our Tribe of preschool students play by the Forest School Curriculum. We are a close-knit, loving community who honor each other’s individual gifts. Together, we play, explore, learn, and grow to enhance our powerful connection to nature, self, and others. We travel to various nature settings in local Santa Monica and Malibu. Our families come from Pacific Palisades, Venice, Santa Monica, Culver City, Playa Vista, and other West Los Angeles areas.
Children are born with an interest in nature. When walking with a child for even a block, you’ll likely find yourself stopping frequently to admire plants, flowers, ants or rocks. The influence of nature on children and its many benefits are now known. As Richard Louv, author of the Last Child in the Woods, states: “A growing body of primarily correlative evidence suggests that, even in the densest urban neighborhoods, negative stress, obesity, and other health problems are reduced and psychological and physical health improved when children and adults experience more nature in their everyday lives. These studies suggest that nearby nature can also stimulate learning abilities and reduce the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and we know that therapies using gardening or animal companions do improve psychological health. We also know that parks with the richest biodiversity appear to have a positive impact on psychological well-being and social bonding among humans” Richard Louv on July 26th 2012: NATURE’S NEURONS: Do Early experiences in the Natural World Help Shape Children’s Brain Architecture?
Our childhood education programs are interest based in an outdoor classroom. A student will learn by interacting with each other, nature, and creative projects. We keep class sizes small to give each student the attention they deserve. Our class size is a maximum of 12 children and we have two teachers and we keep the ratio six to one.
Preschool Students learn social skills by playing together, sharing toys, setting limits, asking for help, listening to each other, resolving conflicts, solving problems, taking turns, following instructions, and taking care of their bodies. All of these take time and repetition through failures, successes, and the help of our teachers (our mentors). They come from playing, doing projects, reading books, and observing nature. They will have a happy, loving, nurturing, and successful preschool experience that prepares children for Kindergarten and Elementary schools with confidence and social responsibility.
Our forest preschool’s educational programs were born in 2011 out of the love for children and nature. Christopher Pierre, our Chief and Founder, likes to think that he was gifted this opportunity from his life experiences. He grew up in the Swiss Alps spending his early childhood summer days in the high alpine pastures with the farmers, their animals, and the forest.
In the bustling city of Los Angeles, he found many little hidden gems while exploring the Santa Monica mountains and Southern California beaches. It became his passion and vocation to bring children into this wilderness to learn and grow so close to our city.
Life Long Skills Learned in Nature Preschool
Ron Finley, an advocate for growing a healthy food culture in South Central, states: “If kids grow kale, kids eat kale. If they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes (Ted talk 2011).” We observed this phenomenon as well and, because our curriculum is an expeditionary Forest School , we help children explore these interests by teaching them edible plants. Children delight in foraging for the edible plants that they encounter each day, such as fennel, sour grass, California walnut, lillypilly cherries, lemon berry and elderberry. They enjoy making herbal tea with mint, hibiscus, raspberry leaves, and fennel. They enjoy crafting salves, soaps, and perfumes with cowboy cologne, lavender, ceanothus, and black and purple sage. They enjoy creating infused water with various oils like melaleuca, nasturtium, peruvian pepper, wild celery, toyon berries, rosemary, and eucalyptus. Children observe the transformation of the plants inside different liquid. The children learned the name of the plants, where to find them,whether they are edible and how to sort them.
Every day provides a new and constantly changing environment for children. In our lives today, being able to adapt with ease and confidence to an evolving environment, are extremely valuable emotional skills.
The traditional preschool, child care centers and daycare centers provide a highly controlled environment. Typically, a house or center carefully thought out, built and arranged for the safety and education of the children. Some of these schools have created amazing outdoor and indoor spaces but it is a completely controlled environment. In our experience as a Forest School, giving children the freedom to interact with natural and responsive environment provides a high-quality preschool education that indoor classrooms can’t match.
These developmental milestones are not always listed in “early childhood education” standards. At LA Nature Kids preschool we believe these adaptability skills should be included as a focus for preschool aged children. A forest school by nature is by far the most efficient setting to learn and master adaptability.
Nature provides the most enjoyable environment for children while being the most efficient way one can possibly dream of to develop motor skills. In nature, we get to:
- Climb hills, rocks and trees.
- We balance on logs or stones, lift rocks and branches while making forts, dig in the dirt
- Run freely in the grassy pastures or along trails
- Harvesting and using small natural materials: Tiny rocks, twigs leaves, petals, grasses, shells, etc
- Carving, drawing, cutting, painting, building fairy houses
- Holding and caring for insects.
When handling a live insect or water creature, all of our senses are focused on making sure to keep this life safe.
Nature School Curriculum
We teach classes in a live and real natural environment, the best preschool environment for children. We have over 20 different locations we go to in the surrounding areas from Santa Monica to Topanga and Malibu. Southern California beaches with tide pools, canyons with year-round streams, sandstone caves on the mountain tops, grassy fields and forests. All within a 30 minute drive.
Counting, sizing, weighing, shape recognition, sorting, harvesting, cooking tinctures and balms, research: What flies, floats, swims and crawls? How and why?
Everything is provided by nature in multitudes, varieties and abundance by the elements: rocks, dirt, plants, waters, air, and animals, particularly insects.
- The teachers read age-related books and children are provided with books to explore independently to enhance language skills.
- When the children are ready and interested, the teachers provide writing and letter recognition opportunities.
Our daily routine includes learning skills for art projects. Natural materials are used to stimulate creative minds. Other media include:
- Acrylic paint
- Scissors, glue, markers
- Drawing materials such as paper and canvas.
School Community and Teachers
LA Nature kids has grown to a community of 500+ families. We have also trained teachers on the forest school curriculum and as a result, many other similar programs have flourished in the West Los Angeles area.
Our core teachers, Nicole and Shelayna, have extensive education, training and experience in the field of early childhood education. Between the two of them, they have over 40 years of classroom teaching experience and have worked at traditional, progressive, and Reggio Emilia-inspired schools. These include Palisades Preschool, First Pres, The First School, Clairefontaine, First Years and Crossroads.
Nicole has been teaching preschool children the forest school curriculum of LA Nature Kids for 7 years and Shelayna has been with us for two years now. Both teachers are certified in CPR and first aid. They were child care providers long before they became teachers and they are mothers as well!
You can trust LA Nature Kids to provide the best Preschool experience for your children.
Evaluation for school readiness begins with a discussion. We then have an in-person tour to make sure your child will thrive in our community and that you are comfortable having your child learn and grow with us. Early childhood education is important and beneficial because it gives children a head start through social interaction. Preschool students learn about their surroundings, and build learning skills and social skills through playing in a constructive, creative way with their peers and teachers.
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Preschools in Santa Monica and the west Los Angeles area are extraordinary but so many culturally rich schools can be overwhelming. Find out about Santa Monica Preschools from a Preschool teacher’s perspective to help give your child the best start on their school journey.
Get in touch today to get your child enrolled in Nature School!
LA Nature Kids is in Santa Monica serving all of West los angeles.
All kids are welcome.
Clover Park in Santa Monica address:
2600 Ocean Park Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405