Help Understory Nature Preschool Plant Its Roots

Understory Nature Preschool

Welcome to the understory – the quizzical in-between. It’s the shaky-but-strong young growth that has doggedly risen above the forest floor…but isn’t quite ready to claim its place in the canopy. It’s a wondrous world that can be steeped in silence and bursting
with unimagined chaos at the same time. Parts of it are messy, but most times that’s where you’ll find the purest lessons.

This is the vision that drives me – a nature preschool. It’s the dream that took hold during my undergrad years working on my degree in child development. It’s the experience that drew me to Washington to intern and absorb the lessons of a farm and forest school in Sumner, WA. It’s the possibility for the Key Peninsula and surrounding areas that pushes me forward – we can create this option for our children and our families.
What’s a nature preschool?

A nature preschool is exactly what it sounds like – a format in which early childhood education takes place outdoors, in nature. In our case, that means the enchanting forests of the Pacific North West. The curriculum for a nature preschool is flexible and built around child-led outdoor play, encouraging curiosity and exploration.
What are the advantages?

• Children are given freedom to play and explore, along with the support needed to learn about handling risks and cooperating with their peers.

• Learning in an environment with less structure promotes creative problem solving and critical thinking in children.

• Learning outdoors at an early age helps children keep their minds open to learning anytime, anywhere – rather than developing a mindset that learning is something that happens in a classroom.

• The relatively low fixed costs of a nature preschool generally mean tuition prices are reasonable and make it an affordable option.

• Right now, an outdoor, open-air, wide-open-spaces alternative for un-cramped learning carries some definite health advantages.

Why here?

This area is blessed with the continents only temperate rainforest and amazing biodiversity. And, while it’s possible for a nature preschool to get by with less, there’s no denying that the Key Peninsula and surrounding areas make a spectacular setting. Our temperate surroundings let us explore and experience all four seasons. So this is a perfect place.
Beyond that though, space in the area’s current preschool settings is limited, with many carrying frustratingly long wait lists. Adding a new, innovative, affordable, practical option with a proven format will be a boon for families.

What’s needed?

To successfully launch Understory Nature Preschool with real autonomy and flexibility, we need land. Owning the space in which we operate will …

• provide a stable base of operations.

• eliminate restrictions to learning by allowing us more freedom in how we use the land.

• improve safety by giving us the freedom to eliminate risks like downed/damaged trees, providing a fire on cold days, building a weather shelter and more.

So we need money to cover as much of the cost as possible for the purchase of five acres of undeveloped land. And, surprising to no one, land on the Key Peninsula is not cheap. I’m excited and ready to work tirelessly to make learning like this available for our children. I could really use a little help to get started.

Josie Sias
Understory Nature Preschool


Josie Sias
Gig Harbor, WA

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