Nature-based Preschools

What is a Nature-based Preschool?

The ODC Network’s family of preschools provide students with an excitement for learning with play and nature-based education. Children spend time outdoors each day, learning through active play and exploration. Researchers have identified health benefits and academic benefits resulting from nature-based learning. 

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Why Choose an ODC Discovery Preschool?

All classes include 3 outstanding teachers who love, respect and nurture children and our natural world. Each teaching team includes 3 educators who have extensive training in nature-based education and child development, as well as a CDA, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
A significant portion of each preschool session is spent outdoors, in all weather. Outdoor gear can be provided to families in need.
Our daily routine begins with outdoor play, then transitions to group meeting, hike, small groups, snack, and ends with indoor play or additional outdoor play. Teachers incorporate music throughout the daily routine. Learning is active, social, child-centered and play-based – perfectly suited for the developing preschooler’s brain and body!
Our unique facility includes world-class nature playscapes, three classrooms designed for nature-based learning, and access to the Outdoor Discovery Center’s 155-acre nature preserve. Daily hikes take place on the ODC trail system.
Our Social Worker provides individual and group support, and joins the parenting journey with our families through Parenting Classes and Parent Chat Groups.
We believe in community and the power of belonging. We work hard to build not only classroom communities, but a school wide community that encourages and cares for one another.
We offer partial scholarships and tuition-free preschool opportunities to families who qualify for financial assistance.
Little Hawks families receive a free ODC Family Membership for the preschool year of enrollment. We love to see Little Hawks at other programs at the ODC and DeGraaf Nature Centers.

About Us

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Our Mission:

To provide a quality early childhood experience that prepares young children to be active, independent learners who will have a lifelong connection to the natural world.

Our Philosophy:

We believe children are natural learners, eager to explore and create. The teaching staff promotes early learning by:

Providing a natural environment that enables and encourages discovery, experimentation, and the opportunity to see the results of one’s actions.
Structuring a program that includes many opportunities for children to be outdoors, learning and exploring, reflecting the research that supports the advantages of these experiences.
Offering opportunities for children to connect with nature while developing the skills of the whole child, as well as children’s individual abilities and interests.
Encouraging problem solving and reflection by asking open-ended questions and providing information in response to children’s ideas, observations, and questions.
Assisting children in their interactions with each other and supporting opportunities for learning to work in a group.
Appreciating and celebrating the unique individuality of children and families.

Preschool Life

Support ODC Nature-based Preschools

We need your help to continue furthering our mission of providing quality early childhood experiences that prepare young children to be active, independent learners who have knowledge of and an appreciation for the natural world.