Academics and Learning

At Tiny Trees students learn the building blocks for a successful education in reading, math and science plus important executive functions and social skills. Our teachers use a play based curriculum with lots of hands on exploration. We celebrate childhood and help kindle a child’s curiosity and wonder. We read to them We speak in complex language to them – they hear that words have meaning We sing together – rhyming, phonetics We encourage book handling and model writing Story dictations Journaling Cooking We write in front of children We use children’s names, the most familiar word to them We play guessing games involving names, pieces of language and words Unlimited writing and reading opportunities, in context, self-motivated We play/use different languages in the classrooms

Our philosophy is a middle path – we teach for academic outcomes and we do so through play, exploration and adventure.  Counting within context – counting the number of petals in a flower, does every flower have the same number of petals? Counting children and/or if there is enough of something for everyone Counting with emotional need (example: counting how many crackers one can have for snack) Searching for 4 leaf clovers Having the group lining up for snack by how old you are Manipulatives – patterns, sizing, grouping Writing numbers Role model reading numbers Snacks – sorting, one-to-one correspondence, table setting Who’s missing – group names Scales—more or less Sorting of materials Measurement Songs with counting Comparing Pointing out time Board games

At Tiny Trees every child is a little scientist, testing and exploring the world to understand an important question: How does it work? Child led exploration Conduct science experiments – child makes a guess, tests their idea, records the data and reports back to the team Magnifying glasses Bug hunting Stuffed animals Show and tell Test surface tension of a mud puddle by pushing a leaf through it Splashing around Learning about flowers by pollinating them with paintbrushes Following a butterfly Reading about animals in books and then searching for the animals in the forest Playing with live animals (supervised) Growing food in a garden Planting a seed and watching it grow into a tree Encourage exploration and understanding of the natural world and the scientific processes that make such a diversity of life possible. Encourage problem-solving and reflection by asking open-ended questions and provide information in response to children’s ideas, insights, and concerns

We teach to the whole child so children enter kindergarten not just ready to learn to read but have the executive functions and social skills for lifelong success. Emotional and social development is an essential part of preschool. The development of executive functions at an early age are an indicator of success later in life. We focus on skills like empathy, self-help/self-care, coordination, cutting, sitting still, attention span, waiting in line, following directions, sharing, communicating, making friends. We teach the building blocks for being a good human. Promote social skills and positive self-image through group play and cooperative learning Mixed aged classrooms where children are teaching each other and holding each other accountable Culturally rich classrooms with children from different communities sharing and supporting others Cultivate emotional literacy and empathy to develop self-esteem Nurture self-expression, creativity and reflection Encourage family involvement to help students appreciate the wisdom of their first teachers — their families Peer encouragement Make choices and experiencing the consequences of choices Time to work on projects/skills Develop activities that encourage cognitive growth, problem-solving skills and development of physical motor skills Making things interesting (active learning), but not entertainment (passive learning – sitting still) Having children wait in line in context (when there are limited resources, i.e., two sinks and ten kids need to use them) Provide a supportive, safe learning environment to encourage discovery, questioning and experimentation

Childhood & Nature Preschool

Nature Preschools, also called Forest Kindergartens, originated in northern Europe. Called “Rain or Shine” schools in Norway because they go outside every day regardless of the weather, nature preschools have become wildly popular with over 1,000 schools in Germany alone. Three examples are: The Eastwood Urban Forest School in London. This Outdoor Preschool in Norway North of the Arctic Circle. This Forest Kindergarten in Germany and this nature preschool in Denmark. See the next tab for information on the benefits of a nature rich education or the Natural Start Alliance to learn about the nature preschool movement in the United States.

At Tiny Trees Preschool children learn academic, emotional and social skills in a nature rich environment. By the time a child graduates from Tiny Trees at the age of 5 they will have spent the majority of their waking lives immersed in the natural world. Some of the developmental benefits of a nature rich classroom are: Supports creativity, problem solving and cooperation: Studies of children in schoolyards found that children engage in more creative forms of play in the green areas. They also played more cooperatively (Bell and Dyment, 2006). Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development (Kellert, 2005). Improves academic performance: Studies in the US show that schools that use outdoor classrooms and other forms of nature-based experiential education support significant student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math. Students in outdoor science programs improved their science testing scores by 27% (American Institutes for Research, 2005). Enhances cognitive abilities: Proximity to, views of, and daily exposure to natural settings increases children’s ability to focus and enhances cognitive abilities (Wells, 2000). Reduces Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms: Contact with the natural world can significantly reduce symptoms of attention deficit disorder in children as young as five years old (Kuo and Taylor, 2004). Increases physical activity: Children who experience school grounds with diverse natural settings are more physically active, more aware of nutrition, more civil to one another and more creative (Bell and Dyment, 2006). Improves eyesight: More time spent outdoors is related to reduced rates of nearsightedness, also known as myopia, in children and adolescents (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2011). Improves social skills: Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005). Improves impulse control and self-discipline: Access to green spaces, and even a view of green settings, enhances peace, self-control and impulse control within inner city youth, and particularly in girls (Taylor, Kuo and Sullivan, 2001). Reduces stress: Green plants and vistas reduce stress among highly stressed children. Locations with greater number of plants, greener views, and access to natural play areas show more significant results (Wells and Evans, 2003).

At Tiny Trees Preschool takes place in a magical natural classroom where children receive a joyful childhood, one full of play, exploration and wonder. A childhood full of: Skipping stones Cooking mudpies Jumping waves Inspecting insects Catching butterflies Throwing balls Flying kites Building sandcastles Grass beneath toes Snow beneath boots Breeze in the hair Jumping in high piles of fall leaves Sunshine on the skin Raindrops on tongues

For children 3-5 learning and brain development is a hands on, tactile and experiential process where all of the senses are engaged. Little minds learn through music, art and play and everything is connected – it is a true inter-disciplinary education. Play, music and art are an important element of how we teach both academic outcomes and social and emotional development. We sing songs together. We create sculptures out of natural materials that reflect the wilds of our imagination. Each child shares their art with others and gets to tell a story about it. We practice call and response (also a tool for behavior management). We bake mud pies, figure out how many cuts need to be made to give everyone a slice and in the process learn about triangles. We meet visiting musicians and music teachers. We tell stories, some with a sing along chorus. We celebrate the cultural richness and traditions of our neighborhood and have guests share stories, dancing or music. Things to remember: Most activities or lessons that you can do in an indoor preschool can be done outdoors. In addition to natural art materials crayons, construction paper, glue, glitter and all of the wondrous art supplies needed to craft something awesome are available at Tiny Trees too.

Health and Safety

Nature preschools started in Europe and are an old, proven concept. We use the learning from generations of teachers to keep our children warm and dry in a Seattle winter. In fact kindergarten means “children’s garden” and originally took place outdoors. In Norway over a quarter of kids go to an entirely outdoor preschool like this one; there are 100s of schools in the country (think 4yr olds on snowshoes!!). And in Sweden, Finland and Switzerland (three countries that top the education charts) outdoor preschools are commonplace and publicly funded. In Germany alone there are over 1,000 Forest Kindergartens. To keep our kids warm and dry we: Give every child receives professional grade fisherman gear including a  Grundens rain jacket, bibs and winter boots for the school year. With the right layers of clothing underneath kids can stay warm and dry to below freezing temperatures. Use a play based curriculum that keeps kids moving and warm. Use park picnic shelters during the worst rain. Carry extra clothes and help children learn self-care and resilience by managing their own clothing systems. Upon enrollment, Tiny Trees provides resources for proper layering, vendors and discounts. In extreme weather when schools normally close we are closed as well. Tiny Trees may have closures due to high winds. In the event of unanticipated weather like a thunderstorm or high winds each school has an emergency facility to go to (example: Camp Long we go into the Lodge). Things to remember:  We are only outdoors for a maximum of 4 hrs (half day) or 6 hours (full day). That is less time than the average American spends in front of a screen daily. Children do not have the same anxiety about future weather that adults do. For a child rain means puddles to splash in, snow means snow man building and wind means leaf tossing wonder. .

Outdoor preschools have been shown to be healthier than indoor spaces. People get sick from people not from dirt, trees or getting cold. Indoor surfaces collect human germs and the recirculated air passes colds and flus. In addition our play based curriculum leads to healthier and more physically active children and adults. For example, if every child touches a set of blocks indoors those blocks become the carrier for germs while sticks and leaves in the outdoors are free of human bugs. To keep our kids healthy we use the following: Mobile hand washing stations that children are required to use after they use the bathroom, before snacks and after touching anything really icky (like banana slugs!). Hand sanitizer when needed (like before activities that involves touching shared objects during flu season). Take frequent snack and water breaks, especially during the summer. Teach putting on sunscreen in creative ways (like face painting!). Teachers carry spare clothes and clean up kits in case of potty accidents. Children will be required to be vaccinated unless they have a religious exception (personal exceptions – like the mistaken belief that vaccines cause autism are not recognized). One of our core values is evidence based practice and vaccines are proven to be safe for the child and to provide a safe and healthy environment for all children.

At Tiny Trees physical and emotional safety is one of our core values. We keep our children safe in an outdoor classroom by: Having a low adult to child ration of 1:8. Each classroom is 16 children, 2 teachers and 1 adult volunteer or student intern on scheduled days (our official student to licensed teacher ratio is 1:8). The average ratio for preschools (and the one required by the City of Seattle) is 1:10. Have children wear matching bright Grunden rain suits in the cooler months and matching yellow or orange pinnies in the warmer months. Requiring that children stay in sight and sound of their teachers at all times. Teachers constantly counting and making sure children stay close. Giving children clear physical boundaries: “Stay on the grass island,” “boots on trail, no one in front of teacher Teddy.” Holding hands Singing songs together when travelling between activities to keep kids focused on their teacher. Limiting outside adult to child interactions, when encountering the public teachers talk to adults first. Only allowing pickup by designated family members. Using pickup and drop off locations that are safe, have ample parking and low traffic risk. Our risk management protocols are based on those used by outdoor preschools in Europe and North America and will be reviewed and improved regularly by our risk management committee. Our preschool teachers will be trained extensively in outdoor preschool models and wilderness first aid. Things to remember: Most preschools go outside for a portion of their day, many to local public parks where they use it as an outdoor classroom. We use parks during the least busy time of the day: morning to afternoon on a weekday. In many cases the perceived risk of being outdoors in higher than the actual risk.

Children are required to be potty trained when they start at Tiny Trees Preschool and bathroom facilities are available at all of our sites. Using the bathroom in a clean and healthy way is an important part of a preschool education. Existing bathrooms at potential parks that are deemed clean, safe and acceptable and that meet licensing standards are used by children. At sites where bathrooms do not meet our standards we rent bathrooms. At all bathrooms: A teacher goes in first to make sure the bathroom is clean and set up for children’s use (foot stool under the sink or tiny seat added to toilet). Teachers wait outside to make sure no one else enters and to respond to potty emergencies. Teacher supervises hand washing. Teacher has spare clothes and clean up kits in case of potty accidents.

Eating and Sleeping

Childhood is hungry work and here at Tiny Trees we make sure every child enjoys healthy, local food. We currently require families to provide their own lunch (AM classes only). Tiny Trees provides a snack for children in all classes. Our preference for snacks are foods that are low-glycemic (no sugar, starches), high in fiber, high in fat and protein. Vegetables, healthy oils, nut butters, high fiber fruits (like apples), cheeses and spreads like hummus are common. See the next tab for how we keep children with food allergies safe. Some schools may have a garden element where children get to grow their own food. At Jefferson Park we have a children’s garden in the Beacon Hill Food Forest and at Beer Sheva students will participate in growing their own garden at the Seattle Tilth Farm.

Food allergies are easily managed at Tiny Trees. Since each classroom is self contained the potential exposure to allergens like peanuts, dairy and gluten is easily managed. When you enroll you will be required to fill out a Health and Safety Form to inform us about any food allergies or medical conditions. Systems we then activate are: Teachers are notified of food allergies and for severe allergies that food is eliminated from the classroom (i.e. all kids are no longer allowed to bring peanuts in their lunches if there is a nut allergy – parents are provided with substitutes – i.e. sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter). When a parent checks in their child in the morning the short intake form requires the teacher to acknowledge they have read about your child’s allergy and confirm that allergy with you. Teachers carry a first aid kit and are trained how to administer epinephrine (epi-pens) in case of an emergency for children with consent forms. Things to remember: Exposure to mild allergens like dust and pollen in the outdoors at an early age may prevent more severe allergies developing later in life. *Please note for complex combinations of food allergies and dietary restrictions we may ask you to pack your child’s snack. For example if your child has a vegan diet and is sensitive to wheat, dairy and soy we may not be able to provide snack that meets their nutritional needs.

Half day, 3.5 or 4 hr programs will not have nap time.

When you complete your enrollment you will be asked to fill out a Health and Safety form listing any medications. We will then activate the following system: Teachers are notified and can administer medication at the required time (like during meals). When a parent checks in their child in the morning the short intake form requires the teacher to acknowledge they have read about your child’s medication and when it needs to be administers and confirms that information with you. Teachers carry a first aid kit at all times and are trained how to administer epinephrine (epi-pens) in case of an emergency. You health and safety form will ask if our teachers have permission to administer medications if needed.

Behavior Management & Emotional Safety

The greatest indicator of quality preschool is quality teachers. We invest in our teachers in the following ways: All lead teachers are required to have a degree in early childhood education or equivalent. All teachers go through a national background check. All teachers are CPR and First Aid certified. Prior to the first day of classes all teachers complete two weeks of training in the outdoor delivery of the High Scope curriculum, use of our student assessment and tracking system Teaching Strategies GOLD and risk management in an outdoor classroom. Teachers receive 10 days of professional development annually. We hire great educators who are loving and caring, can create an emotionally and physically safe space and are passionate about being a mentor for children. Our teachers are mentored and supervised by our Director of Education and Operations, Erin Soper along with with their assigned Curriculum Coach.  Classrooms participating in SPP-Pathways receive additional training and support from city agencies. Our priority is to hire full time teachers with benefits and invest in them for long term success.

Emotional and physical safety is a core value of Tiny Trees Preschool. We create emotionally safe environments for every child that are caring, supportive and healthy. We do this by creating clear expectations for how we treat each other, and holding children accountable for meeting those expectations. We use: Role modeling Giving reasons Expressing our own feelings Admitting our own mistakes Acknowledging feelings Caring for animals and plants Using an authentic voice Teachable moments, putting a lesson into context Teach the golden rule – “do unto others…” Having high expectations for how people are treated here

Large group experiences Reasonable expectations clearly explained and consistently enforced Cooking Handling animals safely Within context of safety Having reasonable requests or rules Experiencing consequences Being clear between requests and directions

High Scope’s 6 Steps to Conflict Resolution:

  • Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions. Place yourself between the children, on their level.
  • Acknowledge children’s feelings. …
  • Gather information. …
  • Restate the problem. ” …
  • Ask for ideas for solutions and choose one together. …
  • Be prepared to give follow-up support.

Our Teachers

We believe licensing is a foundation for creating safe and healthy spaces for our children. All of our teachers are licensed by the Department of Early Learning.

We are currently participating in the innovative Outdoor Preschool Licensing Pilot for the 2018-2019 school year at three of our locations: Camp Long North, Carkeek East, and Jefferson Park.

About the Outdoor Preschool Licensing Pilot

In Spring 2017, the Washington Legislature passed SB 5357 “Establishing a pilot project to license outdoor early learning and child care programs.” The Department for Children, Youth, & Families established a pilot to analyze current models of outdoor preschools and adapt, when necessary, our licensing regulations to allow for the operation of outdoor early learning programs.

In researching the area of outdoor preschool, the legislature found that while there are upwards of 40 outdoor early learning programs in the state, all operate as part-day programs and are therefore not subject to child care licensing regulations. Many of these programs have expressed an interest in hosting full-day programs, and participating in the state’s Early Achievers program. However, DCYF recognizes that many of our current licensing regulations are specifically geared towards the built, indoor environment.

Tiny Trees spent the past year helping DCYF to review & develop regulations, which continue to be reviewed and are awaiting approval before we are able to explore full-day options. Many changes recommended by the drafted regulations, however, are being worked on by our schools and gradually implemented by three different Tiny Trees classrooms in Seattle as well as other outdoor preschool programs in Washington.

This is an amazing opportunity for Tiny Trees Preschool and your families to help shape the quality of outdoor preschool programs and to continue to push for more accessible child care solutions across WA state.

Our teachers will be tracking student progress using teaching strategies gold. This helps them make sure they are meeting the individual need of every student no matter where they are in their learning progression.

We aim to measure our quality through the Early Achievers system developed by the University of Washington and used by Seattle’s new Preschool Program (prop 1b). This allows us to measure the quality of each school in a transparent way that is public record for parents.

Cost & Financial Aid

Tiny Trees makes preschool affordable for families by eliminating the cost of building a child care facility. Instead of spending our money on bricks and mortar we spend it on what matters: great teachers. See our locations for tuition pricing. All classes have two prices. Our full price is 10% below market rate and our financial assistance price is 40% below market rate. Free tuition through the Seattle Preschool Program is available at some of our Tiny Trees locations. More information on financial assistance is available here. Tuition is an annual rate, paid monthly and due before the 1st of the month. For example, you would pay tuition for September on August 30.

Here at Tiny Trees we make preschool affordable for you. Regardless of your ability of pay we have a plan that will meet your family’s need and budget. Please see our financial assistance page for more details.

  1. Apply to Tiny Trees.  We recommend you apply early, as we send out invitations via email to applicants in waives based on the date of your application.  Invitations are sent the winter before your child’s fall start date.  (Typically in February) For example, if you want to enroll your child for the Fall of 2019 and your child will be 3 years old by August 31, 2019, we will send you an invitation to register in late February to early March of 2019.
  2. Once you have received an invitation to register, you can follow the link and view which locations and sessions are available.  If your preferred class is available, you can make a deposit and your space is then guaranteed for the upcoming school year.  If your preferred location and session is full, you can request to be added to that program’s wait list.
  3. Before school starts you will be invited to an orientation where you will meet your teachers. You will also have a home visit where you will have 1:1 time with your teachers, scheduled for early September.
  4. If you are applying outside of Fall enrollment, you will be contacted if there is space available and will be invited to register.  You will then need to fill out a registration form, health and safety from, and pay a deposit. Your child must have turned 3 years old by August 31st of the school year to enroll.  You can not register mid-year if your child’s 3rd  birthday is later then this date.

Where? When? & How Long?

Tiny Trees has built a foundation of 9 preschools in Seattle and King County Parks. See all of our locations here. Our 2019/20 school year locations, program times, and tuition costs are still under consideration, pending approval by the Board of Directors of our annual budget. We anticipate this information will be available in mid-January so that we can begin the enrollment process late-February to early-March. We encourage families can apply as early as they are moved to.  Filling out an application does not reserve a space, but allows for an early registration date.  You will be contacted via email the winter before your child’s fall start date with an invitation to register.  At that time you can view openings and reserve your space.  If all spaces are taken, you can request to be added to the program-specific wait list. N.B. Your indicated preference on your application does not hold you to that choice. You will have the opportunity to view all locations and sessions available upon registration.

Tiny Trees has 9 locations. Please see each location for specific hours. Half Day – Typically 8:30 to Noon or 1 – 4:30 pm – Tue, Thur or – Mon, Wed, Fri or – Mon to Friday At this time our regular school year matches the Seattle School District calendar, including breaks.

Our goal is to make preschool affordable and accessible for families. Providing full day preschool in Seattle and after care is important for working families. Tiny Trees is currently working with Washington State to license outdoor classrooms, which will allow us to provide longer days. This is an urgent goal for us and, as soon as we’re able to, we will share the great news with our community. We are proud to offer summer school for families during July and August. The exact schedule is still to be determined but families would be able to sign up for weekly or monthly preschool with a priority for families who are enrolled in our year round program.

Tiny Trees Preschool is for children 3 to 5 years old. Children must be 3 years old by August 31st of the starting year (that means  your child must turn three before a September start date and be no older than 5 years old. Children must be potty trained. Adult family members must be committed to bring their child for preschool rain or shine (no staying home if you think its going to rain).