Saplings Outdoor Enrichment Program Mission and Values
The mission of Saplings is to create a culture of child-citizens who are connected to the Earth. We facilitate a deeper connection with local ecology through place based learning, while physically empowering children to interact with their environment. Our goal is to develop and foster awareness and compassion for all living things and the world we live in.
Our program is rooted in humanitarian principles that honor the evolving development of the young child. We ask our Saplings to explore the world around them, allowing them to take reasonable risks, while respecting their innate ability to work and learn. Our directors support children’s inquiry and imagination through facilitation of investigation and experience. We believe that every child is connected to the earth beneath their feet, and we strive to strengthen and prolong that vital connection.
We meet 5 days a week, divided into a two day and three day program, from 8:30 to 12:30. We structure our program to have a natural rhythm that is flexible enough to incorporate and support the children’s Inquiry of the Day.
8:45-9:00 Family greeting- coffee, tea, talk story
9:00- 9:15 Goodbye parents,morning circle, activity of the day (stone soup, garden time, Spanish, baking, painting, free play).
9:15-10:45 Inquiry of the Day (IoD) from teacher to facilitate play (example; build shelter), check in with students for ideas, settle into IoD.
10:45- 11;15 snack
11:15- 12:30 free play/continuation of the IoD
12:30-1:00 Lunch, goodbye circle
“In a culture in which "connection" usually refers to the strength of the cell phone signal, quieting the mind - even just sitting alone in the backyard, much less in the forest - can be a difficult rite of passage.”
~ Jon Young, What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World
Saplings offers a two day and a three day option for your child. We encourage consecutive day enrollment to support a continuum of play. Each enrollment option includes at least one day in our community garden, daily meal preparation, and cultural skill building. Feel free to inquire about alternative enrollment options. Please see our Programs page for specifics.
"the world is mud-luscious, and puddle-wonderful"
At Saplings we offer two and three day a week TK and Kindergarten programs, and one day Adventure Kids for 7-9 year olds . We encourage enrollment on consecutive days to support the integrity and flow of play. Our two day program is best suited for younger students or 'first timers'. Three days is a perfect fit for 4-5 year olds and those with previous preschool and daycare experience. Our school day takes place entirely outdoors allowing a full emersion into the natural world.
Please see our ABOUT page for tuition pricing.
We strive to provide a broad base of experience for our Saplings learners. Our teachers collaborate to bring their individual skill sets to the children in a creative and open ended way. Staff will meet once a week to discuss the children, and their individual and group programming needs.
Julia Valentine, Lead Teacher/Director
Julia is a certified Waldorf Early Childhood educator, outdoor education and Permaculture teacher, with over a decade and a half of experience. Julia is a mother of three sons, an avid gardener and cook, and a dedicated social and environmental justice activist. Julia has been leading student inquiry for the last 18 years in a variety of settings, including the classroom and garden. For the last 6 years, she has been the lead teacher, program manager, and curriculum developer for two schoolwide gardening and native habitat programs in Sonoma County. Julia believes in the wisdom each child innately holds, and their primary connection to Mother Earth. She enjoys the collaborative nature of place based learning, and strives to connect students to the world around them through work and play. Julia’s extensive background in garden and native habitat education strengthens her ability to lead children safely and respectfully through their outdoor educational experience.
"Helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful"