Tess with kids and tipi at Wildheart's Bend outdoor kindergarten

Wildheart Kindergarten

Mixed-Age Outdoor Kindergarten for Ages 3 1/25
May turn 6 during school year
SeptemberJune
Juniper Jungle Learning Farm
Two and four day options available

Wildheart Kindergarten offers experiential outdoor learning in a small group.

Our mission is to support the child’s curiosity and inner resilience, while guiding their connection to nature, community, and environmental stewardship.

Bend-Outdoor-Kindergarten-Flyaway

What is Wildheart Kindergarten?

Wildheart Kindergarten is a unique mixed-age outdoor school serving children ages 3 1/2-5. We foster holistic child development directly from a natural world classroom that includes a waterproof shelter and access to a bathroom. Through our experiential and emergent learning model, open-ended exploration leads to informative reflection. Child-led interests are always mirrored in the framework of daily lessons. We learn and play amongst wild-growth meadows, woodland trails, a meandering stream, and farm animals. Teacher observation of the child’s wonder becomes a living scaffolding for learning opportunities. Lessons meet individual strengths, while guiding the child toward specific developmental goals.

Peeling apples in Bend Outdoor Kindergarten
Margaret profile photo

Margaret Persaud

Lead Teacher at Juniper Jungle Learning Farm

A New York native, Margaret has worked closely with children and parents for over a decade in the classroom, at home and in summer camps. She began her undergraduate studies majoring in Early Childhood Education. Becoming discouraged with the current model of education, she left school in search of a more holistic approach. While living in Sedona, Arizona, she discovered Maria Montessori and Rudolph Steiner’s alternative pedagogies of instruction. It was then that she started to structure her philosophy of education around the physical, academic, social-emotional, and spiritual needs of the child. She believes that an integration of these practices will nurture children to be uniquely themselves while creating a strong sense of social responsibility and accountability for caring for our planet.

Margaret received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Early Childhood Education from Long Island University. She studied at the West Side Montessori School receiving her American Montessori Society certification for children ages three to six.

It was there that she became involved as a Diversity Council representative, a SEED (Seeking Equity in Education and Diversity) member and Peace advocate. Margaret has worked with schools to provide Social-Emotional Learning workshops focusing on non-violent communication, kindness curriculum, and mind-body-wellness practices for educators and children alike. She believes that the transformation of self is the key to transforming our relationships and our community. The collective well-being can only be addressed as deeply and authentically as we show up to meet ourselves.

Margaret and her daughter Grace enjoy cooking, yoga, dance, art, meditation, camping and soaking in hot springs. Margaret is certified in Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED by the American Heart Association.

Our Holistic Curriculum Model is Based on Nature’s Elements

Our living curriculum engages the whole child in a deeply-connected learning process. From this connection with nature, the child’s innate capacities emerge.

Elements image for Wildheart Kindergarten

Air Element

Air Element

The air element attunes us to the mind. This includes developing concentration, problem-solving skills, age appropriate academic explorations, and clear communication methods. Wildheart Kindergarteners learn how to solve challenges in a fun way by collecting the most effective sticks for a fire, discovering primitive crafts, building shelters, and interacting in a community. Note that we can exclude academic activities for families practicing a Waldorf philosophy.

Children Will:

  • Practice writing upper and lower case letters
  • Practice counting and numbers
  • Work on collecting and sorting
  • Learn problem solving methods
  • Practice leadership and teamwork through communication

Finally,

we work with children who are entering school for the first time and some who are preparing to go into first grade. Each child learns at their own pace and will be offered developmentally appropriate skills and tools to prepare them for what is to come. Outdoor experiences inherently promote more advanced problem-solving skills, less stress, and enhanced creativity, according to the articles in “Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations,” edited by Peter Kahn and Stephen Kellert. 

Fire Element


Fire Element

The fire element attunes us to our passions and curiosities. Wildheart’s curriculum is tailored toward children’s natural interests and passions. We encourage curiosity during our nature outings and develop curriculum based on the children’s findings and interests. Nature and open-ended prompts stimulate the children’s imagination.

Children Will:

    • Go on nature discovery expeditions
    • Practice curiosity tools such as how to ask questions
    • Be immersed in emergent curriculum that is mirroring their current interests and passions
    • Children will perform experiments to test theories. (For example, Will this sink or float?)
    • Children will co-create a culture of curiosity

Finally,

we allot children plenty of opportunity for expansive play to unfold. Learning and playing in nature are intertwined at Wildheart Kindergarten to create a joyous entree into their world.

Earth Element

 

Earth Element

Children are immersed in the earth element by planning, cultivating and harvesting the complete cycle of a garden. From putting down mulch and planting seeds to nurturing and harvesting the crop, children engage with their food, even as they observe the garden’s eventual decay. Our farm location provides children with a perfect hands-on opportunity to embody stewardship. Children enact farm chores such as feeding and caring for the animals.

Children Will:

  • Engage in practical skills
  • Practice handwork (dry felting, wet felting, sewing)
  • Bake and cook 
  • Garden, harvest, preserve food, and deydrate food
  • Wildcraft plants and build shelters
  • Engage in primitive skills
  • Learn stewardship

Finally,

Stewardship and care for the earth is a very high priority at Wildheart. Children become mindful of waste and trash and observe their impact on the world around them. Cultivating this visceral connection to the natural world is key for this cultivation.

Water Element

 

 

Water Element

Water invites us to feel our emotions and regulate them throughout the day. The flow of our day mirrors the natural rhythm of the breath. We balance the in-breath of togetherness and focus with the out-breath of free play, solitude, and rest. In honor of the water element, we bring an element of depth to everything we do. We form deep bonds with each other and with the earth. We also offer children the opportunity to self-reflect as they grow.

 

Children Will:

    • Be immersed in nature where emotional regulation occurs naturally
    • Learn tools for emotional regulation 
    • Practice Resiliency (social and in the outdoors)
    • Sing songs and play instruments
    • Form deep bonds with each other and the earth
    • Practice conflict resolution
    • Learn how to advocate for themselves and other

Finally,

water can be a place of the unknown. In our program, children grow their capacity to face the unknown with acceptance and resilience. We celebrate our emotional capacity to enjoy music with natural instruments we create on the farm, handmade instruments from our teachers, and novel instruments from around the world.

 

Ether Element

 

Ether Element

The element of ether attunes us to the intangible underlying fabric of reality that connects all people, plants, animals, minerals, and beyond. We commit to a high degree of presence with the children. Through celebrating the turn of the seasons, we attune ourselves to nature’s harmony. In our program we celebrate community festivals bring all families together to honor the seasons and the richness they bring.

Children Will:

  • Do sit spots in nature to cultivate stillness
  • Practice mindfulness through breath, friendly wishes, and other methods
  • Create seasonal festivals that bring all families together
  • Experience an exceptional level of presence from teachers

Finally,

Artistic activities follow the cycle of the seasons, with circle time and storytelling reflecting the same. Restful time is not a nap time, but a quiet in-breath to find calm while listening to a story. Art lessons will range in mediums and will be bound into a handmade book of artwork by each child.

Parent Comments

“Prior to Wildheart my daughter had never been in a school or large social setting of any kind. Naturally of a quieter and reserved natured, we knew we needed a program that would foster her gentle spirit and specific needs. Although it was a large change for us all, especially our daughter, we felt comforted knowing the teachers at Wildheart would warmly embrace her into their unique and loving community. The outdoor component, the waldorf approach in addition to the other like minded parents, all helped to create just what our daughter needed. She is almost a year completed and she has bloomed into a more vibrant version of herself. She comes home with windblown hair, singing songs and telling stories of her day. Is Wildheart a regular school? Most definitely not, it is like none other and we are so blessed to have come across it at this needed time in our lives.”

Sylvie Roy, 2022

Daily Rhythm

9:30 AM Arrival and Tea

10:00 AM Morning Nature Hike

10:30 AM Wash Up and Snack

11:00 AM Inspired Activity

Example Activities:

Tuesday: Letter Learning and Journaling
Wednesday: Gardening
Thursday: Shelter and Campfire Building

11:00 PM Imaginative Free Play

12:30 PM Wash Up and Lunch

1:00 PM Art in Activity

1:30 PM Story Time and Pick Up

Kid with planter in garden
Lead teacher with kids in Bend outdoor Kindergarten
Kids watering garden at Bend Outdoor Kindergarten

Juniper Jungle Learning Farm

Juniper Jungle Learning Farm
(Ages 3 1/2 – 6)

22135 Erickson Rd. Bend, OR 97701

Welcome! Juniper Jungle Learning Farm is a classroom, a discovery center, a place to grow, a place to gather. The mission of this family farm is to engage children and adults in learning about farming, food systems, and their importance to our community.

2023–2024 SCHEDULE AND FEES

CLASS SCHEDULE

4-DAY OPTION

Tuesday September 19th, 2023–Friday, June 14th, 2024
9:30am–1:30pm Tuesday through Friday

Pay in Full: $7,524
Payment Plan: Pay a $800 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments September–June.

2-DAY OPTION

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023–Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
9:30am–1:30pm Every Tuesday and Wednesday

OR

Thursday, September 21st, 2023–Friday, June 14th, 2024
9:30am–1:30pm Every Thursday and Friday

Pay in Full: $3,840
Payment Plan: Pay a $400 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments September–June

*There is a 4% discount for siblings who sign up together.

School Holidays and Events:

Parent-Teacher Conferences, Friday & Tuesday, November 3rd & 7th, 2023 (No School)
Thanksgiving Break, November 20th-24th, 2023 (No School)
Advent Spiral Celebration, Friday, December 22nd, 2023 (All Family Event)
Winter Break, December 18th, 2023- January 5th, 2024 (No School *3 weeks)
Teacher Development Week, February 19th-23rd, 2024 (No School)
Spring Break March 25th-29th, 2024 (No School)
Beltane Celebration Friday, May 3rd, 2024 (All Family Event)
Graduation Day, June 14th, 2024 (All Family Event)

2024–2025 SCHEDULE AND FEES

2024/2025 Registration open February 1st

CLASS SCHEDULE

4-DAY OPTION

Tuesday, September 10th, 2024–Friday, June 13th, 2025
9:30am–1:30pm Tuesday through Friday

Pay in Full: $7,777
Payment Plan: Pay a $800 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments September–June.

2-DAY OPTION

Tuesday, September 10th, 2024–Wednesday, June 11th, 2025
9:30am–1:30pm Every Tuesday and Wednesday

OR

Thursday, September 12th, 2024–Friday, June 13th, 2025
9:30am–1:30pm Every Thursday and Friday

Pay in Full: $4,197
Payment Plan: Pay a $400 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments September–June

*There is a 4% discount for siblings who sign up together.

School Holidays and Events:

Parent-Teacher Conferences, Tuesday and Friday, November 8th & 12th 2024 (No School)
Thanksgiving Break, November 25th-29th, 2024 (No School)
Advent Spiral Celebration, Friday, December 20th, 2024 (All Family Event)
Winter Break, December 23rd, 2024- January 10th, 2025 (No School *3 weeks)
Teacher Development Week, February 17th-21st, 2025 (No School)
Spring Break March 24th-28th, 2025 (No School)
Beltane Celebration Friday, May 2nd, 2025 (All Family Event)
Graduation Day, June 13th, 2025 (All Family Event)

“Wildheart Kindergarten has been an incredible place for our son to learn and grow this fall. Miss Tess creates a nurturing environment where every kid feels safe to be themselves. They have opportunities to practice both independence and teamwork, leadership and cooperation, all while learning about the natural world and our place in it. Our son has blossomed as part of this caring group.”

Jessica Higgins, 2021

Gwen-Profile

Gwen LaFond

Gwen is a co-teacher and the owner of Juniper Jungle Learning Farm. She has a rich background in Early Childhood Education through university studies and working in the Tinkergarten Program. She brings the gardening curriculum to the program.

Director of Bend Outdoor Kindergarten

Tess Vining

Tess is an experienced Waldorf-trained teacher and the founder of the Wildheart Mixed-Age Kindergarten program. She brings her expertise to the program and will be a co-teacher this year.

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