Q. Why nature preschool?
A. Nature preschools, are a special breed of preschool. A growing body of research shows that frequent play in nature stimulates all of a child’s developmental domains, including their cognitive, creative, physical, social and emotional, and spiritual development, preparing children to succeed in school and in life.
Nature preschools have all the same child development goals that more traditional schools have, but they also are committed to accomplishing those goals through experiences in and with nature, and have an added goal of helping children begin to develop care and concern for the natural world. Nature Preschools offer young children frequent experiences to learn and play in nature, and have a compelling impact on child development and well-being, while laying the foundation for environmental literacy and stewardship values. Early childhood is a critical time in life to provide opportunities to spend time playing outdoors, building upon children’s inherent curiosity and love of nature. Studies show that environmental stewardship is born from an emotional connection to nature, which often develops in early childhood. In fact, over 35 years of studies from around the world show that the single most common influence on adult stewardship values comes from unstructured, frequent childhood play in wild settings.
Q. Why Thorne?
A. For more than six decades Thorne has been a nationally recognized leader in environmental education. We have designed the business plan and academic model for our Preschool based on best practices in the field as well as the wisdom learned from visiting and observing the most successful nature-based preschool programs across the country.
Q. Will nature preschool prepare my child for Kindergarten?
A. Yes. Thorne Nature Preschool has the same early childhood development goals of traditional preschools and kindergartens, but will accomplish these goals through meaningful, authentic experiences in nature. Utilizing integrated academic and social curriculum grounded in nature, Thorne Nature Preschool nurtures the well-being of each child while preparing them to succeed in school and in life.
Q. Will there be academics?
A. Yes. Thorne Nature Preschool integrates academic and social curriculum into each day, through experiences grounded in nature. The Preschool strives to achieve industry-standard benchmarks for early childhood development, and goes beyond these to include the many benefits of immersion in nature.
Q. What is the teacher:child ratio?
A. For our first year, the preschool will be an intentionally small program limited to 10 children with 2 teachers and at least 1 dedicated volunteer.
Q. What is the cost?
A. Deposit: There is a non-refundable deposit of $1,000 that is credited towards tuition due at the time of registration for new families
Annual Tuition= $7650
Monthly Tuition= $850
Monthly Tuition after Deposit is paid= $739
2 days/week (M/W or Tu/Th):
Annual Tuition= $4,050
Monthly Tuition= $450
Monthly Tuition after Deposit is paid= $339
Q. What is the enrollment process?
1. Attend an Open House or Schedule a One-on-One Interview with Thorne’s Program Director
We encourage all interested families to REGISTER to attend an Open House event or skip ahead to schedule a One-on-One Interview with Thorne’s Program Director (see below for more info), as soon as possible. This registration will also act as a free, no-risk, pre-application opportunity to guarantee your space in line, should you choose to apply to our school.
The Open House events will meet at East Boulder Community Center and will be an opportunity to meet staff, learn about the program, and experience our new Nature Preschool Outdoor Classroom. Thorne will provide engaging, nature play programming for your child/ren in the same location. Due to childcare programs occurring at the Center during these hours, we will not tour the indoor facility, but we will have photos available.
2. Submit an Application
After the Open House, if you feel that Thorne Nature Preschool is the right fit for your child and your family, the next step is to submit an application to enter our applicant pool. Applications will be available at the Open House events or can be sent via email or mail.
3. Interview with Thorne’s Program Director
Upon receipt of your application or registration for a one-on-one interview, Thorne Nature Preschool will contact you to schedule a time to meet that is convenient for you to meet Thorne’s Program Director. This will start the journey of getting to know each other. Every applicant must participate in an interview.
Interviews will happen at Thorne Nature Experience with Erin Saunders, Thorne’s Program Director. Children are welcome, but there won’t be separate childcare provided.
4. Submit Enrollment forms and deposit
After your interview, you can enroll your child in Thorne Nature Preschool, by completing your enrollment packet and paying your deposit. In addition, we require your child’s health and immunization records for enrollment. Providing your enrollment forms with the enrollment deposit will reserve a space for your child. To enroll, families must return their enrollment packet and the required deposit within 10 business days of receiving the admissions offer.
Click here to REGISTER for an Open House or Interview
Applications to Thorne Nature Preschool will be accepted regardless of race, color, sex, religion, handicap, political persuasion, national origin or ancestry.
Q. What happens on a rainy or snowy day?
A. For young children, rain and snow can be as much fun as a sunny Colorado day, as long as they are dressed appropriately. Thorne Nature Preschool will engage in learning outdoors on rainy and snowy days, so please make sure to always pack a waterproof layer for your child. Thorne Nature Preschool follows the Child Care Weather Watch guidelines and in the event of lightning or extreme weather, Thorne Nature Preschool will retreat indoors.
Inclement weather closings: Thorne Nature Preschool will not operate when snow or extreme weather create conditions which are dangerous for young children and their families to travel to and from school. In making the decision to close, we will follow the lead of the Boulder Valley School District. Check the BVSD website or your local TV stations for the latest information. Thorne will also send out updates via text and email.
Q. How much time will my child spend outside?
A. Children will spend almost the entire program time outdoors, except in the event of lightning or extreme weather, in which case we will retreat indoors to our cozy classroom.
Q. What if I don’t want my child to attend every day of the week?
A. The research shows that children benefit the most from frequent and consistent experiences in nature. To this end, Thorne will give priority to families that can participate 4 days per week. If there are openings for the Preschool in June, Thorne will open up spaces to families that can attend two days per week (M/W) or (Tu/Th).
Q. What if my child needs full day care?
A. While Thorne Nature Preschool is a 4-hour program, we understand that many families need care after 1pm. Thorne will help coordinate and support families by: 1) Providing transportation to another program within 5 miles of Thorne Nature Preschool, 2) Assisting families to coordinate nanny shares and carpool shares. While we can’t guarantee full day programming, we are committed to supporting families within our available resources.
Q. Does my child need to be potty trained to attend?
A. Yes, children need to be potty trained in order to attend. Because the program is almost entirely outdoors, there will not be a way to change diapers.
Q. How do meals and snacks work?
A. Parents should supply their child with a healthy snack, lunch, and water each day. After arriving at our outdoor learning area for the day (around 10:15am), children will wash their hands and have snack and hot tea or water. At around noon, children will wash their hands and have lunch and hot tea or water.
Q. How much structure will there be?
A. The program aims to strike a healthy balance between predictable daily routines, group activities, teacher-led curriculum, and plenty of time for open-ended nature play and exploration.
Q. What will my child do?
A. Children at Thorne Nature Preschool will spend their days playing, learning, exploring, running, jumping, digging, building, climbing, hiking, balancing, tumbling, skipping, observing, exploring, negotiating uneven surfaces, drawing, imagining, collaborating, storytelling, and making friendships.
Q. Will my child come home wet and muddy?
A. Yes. Children love to experience whatever elements exist in nature, whether it’s a snowy hill, a mud puddle, or a quiet meadow. Thorne staff allow children to play and learn through experiencing nature first-hand, which often leaves kids wet and muddy. We ask parents to dress children appropriately for the weather and keep a second set of clothes at the school.
Q. What clothing will my child need?
A. Appropriate clothing that keeps children warm, dry, and protected from the elements is critical to their comfort and well-being. Clothing needs will vary according to season and weather conditions but generally should include the following:
1) rain or snow pants
3) waterproof boots
4) quality waterproof mittens
5) insulating hat or sun hat
6) multiple insulating layers
Q. Will MY child ever be unsupervised?
A. No. Children will never be unsupervised. Teacher ratios are maintained at 5:1 with always a minimum of 2 adults.
Q. Do staff have first aid training?
A. Yes. All staff have first aid, CPR, Standard Precautions and Medication Administration training and carry comprehensive first aid kids at all times.
Q. What kind of opportunities for parent involvement will there be?
A. Thorne Nature Preschool values building a strong, supportive, inclusive community between classmates, families, and preschool staff. To this end, Thorne holds family events to celebrate nature and the changing seasons throughout the year. To support nature connection for the entire family, Thorne leads family hikes and nature exploration days. Thorne believes that a healthy, rich, meaningful sense of community within the Nature Preschool, cultivates the human connection that is equally as important as nature connection.
See the Nature Preschool Calendar to learn more about our community events and celebrations.
Q. Does the Preschool require parents to volunteer?
A. Thorne does not require parents to volunteer, but has an open door policy when it comes to parent observations and support of the program. All visitors must arrange their visit through the Director, who will notify the staff of the reason for the visit as well as the date, time, location, and number of visitors to expect. All visitors must sign in with the on the day of their visit on the “Visitor Log” which includes: name, date, phone number, address, reason for visit, and a driver’s license number.
Q. Will Thorne Nature Preschool have a parent education program?
A. Yes. To support nature connection for the entire family, Thorne hosts parent education events that include childcare.
See the Nature Preschool Calendar to learn more about our community events and celebrations.
Q. How will I know how my child is doing?
A. Thorne Nature Preschool has desired goals and outcomes for children that relate to both early childhood development and environmental literacy. Teachers will document children’s learning and assess outcomes on a regular basis, through ongoing observations and students’ works. Student assessment will allow teachers to:
Follow each child’s progress
Celebrate children’s work
Inform emergent curriculum
Share assessments with parents
Thorne values open communication with families and will share information and student assessments through:
Quarterly Parent / teacher conferences
Weekly program emails with photos
Daily availability to talk at drop-off and pick-up
Q. When does the school year begin? What holidays does the school observe?
A. The school year starts the Tuesday following Labor Day and operates through the Friday before Memorial Day. We follow the standard Boulder Valley School District school year calendar.
Holidays and School breaks when Center is closed
Winter holidays (2 weeks)
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Spring break (same week as BVSD)
Inclement weather closings
Thorne Nature Preschool will not operate when snow or extreme weather create conditions which are dangerous for young children and their families to travel to and from school. In making the decision to close, we will follow the lead of the Boulder Valley School District.
Q. Does the school schedule include special events or family/teacher conferences?
A. The school has a rich calendar of events, work days, and conferences to build a vibrant school community. Events include celebrations to mark each season, as well as two work days, and a picnic to end the school year.
Q. What are the ages of children accepted?
A. Children ages 3 through 6 can attend Thorne Nature Preschool. Group size is maintained at a maximum ratio of 5 children per 1 adult. Children must be three years old by their enrollment date and fully toilet trained in order to attend the Preschool.
Q. Where is the school located?
A. Thorne Nature Preschool will begin each day at an indoor classroom at East Boulder Community Center before heading to our outdoor learning area along Bobolink Trail! The outdoor learning area is nestled along South Boulder Creek, which offers a diverse habitat for children to play and learn, and is just a 5 minute walk from the Center. Minutes from downtown Boulder and a world away from urban life.
East Boulder Community Center: 5660 Sioux Dr, Boulder, CO 80303
Q. Who are the teachers?
A. Please refer to our Faculty page for information on the 2019-2020 teaching team.
Q. How large are the classes?
A. The group size for the 2019-2020 school year will be a maximum of 10 children with 3 adults.
Q. Are tuition scholarships available?
A. As we begin this program, Thorne is unable to provide tuition scholarships or financial aid at this time but we encourage you to reach out to our Director to discuss any situation which might prevent attendance for a family with a sincere desire to enroll a child at Thorne Nature Preschool.
Q. Can I attend an open house?
A. Yes, we encourage all interested families to REGISTER to attend an Open House event as soon as possible. This registration will also act as a free, no-risk, pre-application opportunity to guarantee your space in line, should you choose to apply to our school. If these dates do not work for you, we still ask you to register, so we know you are interested in applying to Thorne Nature Preschool.
The Open House events will meet at East Boulder Community Center and will be an opportunity to meet staff, learn about the program, and experience our new Nature Preschool outdoor classroom. Thorne will provide engaging, nature play programming for your child/ren in the same location. Due to childcare programs occurring at the Center during these hours, we will not tour the indoor facility, but we will have photos available.
Click here to REGISTER for an Open House
Q. Who do I contact for more information?
A. Erin Saunders, Thorne Education Programs Director, 303-499-3647 ext 101