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Happy Valley Nature Preschool

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Santa Cruz, CA

Education

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Our Story

Over the course of many years in the early outdoor education field, we have developed an innovative approach to play-based learning that combines traditional preschool opportunities with gardening and access to wild spaces.

Using our amazing 5-acre property, children engage in an ongoing inquiry with their surrounding environment, developing a healthy respect for themselves, one another and nature. Our teachers are humans, redwood trees, bay trees, white alder, willow, quail, hawks, garter snakes, rabbits, squirrel, deer, fruit trees, flowing creek and so much more.

Children learn to naturally connect to the cycles of nature, of birth and decay and food and waste. Through this they learn about their own ecological system - self, family, community, beliefs, values and their place on this earth.

Our program model is based on Esalen Institute’s Gazebo Park School, Europe’s Forest Kindergarten tradition as well as the work being done in the Reggio Emilia child development programs, permaculture ethics & principles and best practices in early childhood education. 

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