Four Kids Laughing Under Tree

Wildheart Kindergarten

Mixed-Age Kindergarten for Ages 3 1/25
SeptemberJune
Juniper Jungle Learning Farm
Applications for 20212022 open March 11th at 6pm!
You can sign up separately for Semesters 1 and 2!

Wildheart Kindergarten offers experiential outdoor learning in a small group, led by a certified and experienced Waldorf Teacher.

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

Check out our video from January 2021! The information at the end about spaces being available for winter/spring 2021 is no longer the case.

What is Wildheart Kindergarten?

Wildheart Kindergarten is a unique mixed-age outdoor school serving children ages 3 1/2 to 5 on a local farm. 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. Our living curriculum engages the whole child in a deeply-connected learning process. From this connection with nature, the child’s innate capacities emerge.

Children will come away with foundations in:

1. Gardening

Children are immersed in the rhythm of life 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.

2. Literacy

The remarkable designs of nature prompt exploration and lead to the discovery of letters rather than a traditional and linear memorization approach to literacy. Phonetic and visual letter attributes become connected with an object from nature and paired sensory experiences reinforce both learning and the appreciation of nature.

3. Math

From seeds, pinecones and feathers to flowers and leaves, bountiful mother nature provides numerous tools to sort, categorize and count natural patterns and designs.

4. Problem Solving

Outdoor experiences 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. 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, and more.

5. Concentration, Interpersonal Skills, and Emotional Regulation

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. According to the same study mentioned above, children who spend time in nature experience higher levels of mental, emotional, and physical health, better concentration, greater interpersonal skills, and increased self-discipline.

6. Stewardship

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. In addition, children become mindful of waste and trash, and observe their impact on the world around them.

7. Imaginative Play

Nature, open-ended toys, and prompts stimulate the children’s imagination. 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.

Students will explore:

– Watercolor painting
– Beeswax modeling
– Gardening
– Letter learning
– Math
– Storytelling
– Wild-crafting edible and medicinal plants
– Food preservation
– Wool handwork
– Journaling
– Book binding
– Mindfulness and sensory awareness
– Fantasy themed activities such as faerie house creation and magical scavenger hunts
– Lessons in environmental stewardship

Four Kids Laughing Under Tree

“Wildheart KinderCamp 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

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

Artistic activities follow the cycle of the seasons, with circle time and storytelling reflecting the same. Herb Harvest Hike is a daily peek into the skill of wildcrafted herbal tea-making. Imaginative freeplay is supervised exploration of fort building, hay bale and mud kitchen baking, sand and stick art, animal home tracking and class adventures on the whim of curiosity. Lunch and Snack are brought from home. 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.

Girl with raven feather
Photograph of Tess Vining

Tess Vining

Early Childhood Waldorf Teacher

Inspired by the holistic teaching approach of Waldorf education, Ms. Tess earned a Waldorf Teaching Certificate from WTEE in Eugene, Oregon and began working at Corvallis Waldorf School as a teacher, then director of Early Childhood Program Licensing. In 2017, Ms. Tess moved to Bend, Oregon to work at the Waldorf School of Bend, leading the Huckleberry Preschool by 2019. During the summer, her son attended Wildheart Nature School camps, learning environmental stewardship and the virtues of resiliency and compassion in the greater community. Integrating the values of nature education, Ms. Tess formed Wildheart Kindergarten on a local farm to serve preschool and kindergarten-aged children in Central Oregon. The small class size, developing garden, and expansive space allows children to reset, engage, and learn from the wonders of the natural world.

Public Health Advisory and Cancellation Policies During Uncertain Times

We are closely tracking the current updates and advisories. You can read about our Communicable Disease Management Plan here.

Please note that we have an Emergency Childcare License and will not be discontinuing classes.

Covid Policy Visual
MORE INFORMATION

FIRST SEMESTER
Tuesday, September 21st, 2021–Friday, December 17th, 2021
9:30am–1:30pm Tuesday–Fridays
Cohort limited to 14 students
Lead Teacher: Tess Vining

Pay in Full: $2,827*
Payment Plan: Pay a $400 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments SeptemberDecember of $607*

  • Veterans Day Thursday, November 11th (School in Session)
  • Thanksgiving Break November 23rd–26th (No School)

SECOND SEMESTER
Tuesday, January 11th, 2022–Friday, June 3rd, 2022
9:30am–1:30pm Tuesday–Fridays
Cohort limited to 14 students
Lead Teacher: Tess Vining

Pay in Full: $4,474*
Monthly Payments:
Pay a $400 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments January–June of $679*

  • Teacher Development February 15th–18th (No School)
  • Spring Break 22–25th (No School)
  • May Faire Celebration Friday, May 6th (Special Family Event)

*There is a 4% discount for signing up for both semesters and an additional 4% discount for siblings who sign up together.

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