About our program
Nature Immersion Philosophy:
Our program philosophy is based on the German Waldkindergarten model of early education. We focus on providing children with a natural, mostly outdoor environment in which to play and explore in all but dangerous weather conditions. We operate under the Waldkindergarten mantra of "there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing". We offer a place-based nature experience that instills a sense of stewardship for the environment by fostering children's connection to local nature. We encourage supervised risk-taking within safe limits.
We are a German immersion program, meaning that our interactions with the children take place exclusively in German. We primarily enroll children who understand and speak German and have a connection to German culture. We increase children's motivation to speak German by creating opportunities for meaningful conversation, reading engaging stories, singing silly songs, and participating in the children's play and exploration.
By offering challenge, freedom, a soothing sensory environment, and motivation for movement, outdoor play in nature provides ideal support for the development of healthy minds and bodies.
Children learn best when they are self-motivated and when content is relevant to their lives. Thus our approach is focused around the children's play. We do not use a didactic academic style of teaching, however we naturally incorporate basic literacy and pre-math skill building into our play and exploration. We use humor and foster deep joy to encourage authentic relationships among kids and teachers.
Curriculum themes are inspired by our outdoor environment, the seasons, weather, German holidays, and by themes that children bring into the group from their everyday lives. We use rich language to discuss discoveries and foster meaningful conversations to deepen knowledge and encourage language development. Storytelling and singing are strong elements of our daily routine as is exploration of open-ended art.
Guidance and discipline:
We strongly believe that every child deserves our respect. We actively model respectful behavior and, in turn, expect children to be respectful of each other and their teachers.
We understand that conflict and strong emotions are a normal and developmentally appropriate part of a child’s day and support them by listening to their feelings and involving them in resolving their conflicts. Children will also be actively involved in making the rules for the group ensuring a group culture that is respectful and feels safe for all members.
We will never use physical or emotional punishment (including time-outs) as a discipline tool.
We meet Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons from 1:30-5pm. We have a new after-school option (Tue and Th 3-5pm, Wed 2-5pm). We run three 10-week sessions following the academic quarter schedule and are closed for the summer.
Kindergruppe Waldwichtel is run out of our licensed home in Davis, CA. We split our time between one garden and two field days a week. Field days take place at a local riparian reserve while home days are set outside in our large backyard, though we have access to a cozy classroom in our yurt and a bathroom in the main house.
We begin the day with an optional open-ended art activity and free-play. Later on we meet for circle, bringing together the group for songs, storytelling, and conversation. This is followed by a healthy snack, which children bring from home. We finish our day with another period of free-play or a walk to one of our nature locations. Children have open access to art materials, tools, and books during this time. We schedule a hiking day once a week to enjoy a full three hours of nature immersion and exploration.
Having a small group of children and two teachers means that our ratios are unusually low with 1 adult per 3-4 children. This allows for close supervision and individualized attention given to each child.
We enroll children 3 to 7 years old in a mixed-age environment.