Our school blends the forest kindergarten model with Waldorf philosophy and is held entirely outdoors throughout the school year at Lithia Park, with field trips to other parks, forests and farms.
We are a multi-age kindergarten and preschool, with two classes. The Acorn program is for children ages 3-5, the Oaks program ages 4-6. Hours for the Oaks class are 9 am to 1 pm Monday through Thursday. Acorns is Tuesday-Thursday, September through June, with vacations generally following the Siskiyou School Calendar. Seasonal celebrations to strengthen our school community and parent evenings are also offered. For current year details, enrollment, and tuition see our Details page where we also list our current year's Summer Camps.
After circle time we provide a healthy and hearty group snack of organic apples, carrots, sprouted almonds, raisins, cheese, meat, and roasted chickpeas, with other seasonal additions and cornbread or muffins on Thursday, along with warm tea with honey. Children bring a small lunch from home to eat near the end of our school day.
Children will thrive in the outdoor school if they are properly prepared. An early bedtime, a hearty breakfast, a positive attitude about the weather modeled by parents, and appropriate clothes for the weather are critical to the success of our outdoor days. We can’t stress enough the importance of the right gear. In our opinion there is not bad weather just bad gear. Through experience we have learned that certain brands perform better than others. We have a “library” of gear for families to check out to help on expenses. Please check with us if you would like to see what we have available. Donations to our gear library gratefully accepted too. See Parent Page for detailed gear list.
Our school days start with imaginative play time and invitations to craft or work on projects. A seasonal circle of songs, rhymes, ring games, and therapeutic movement is followed by the sharing of a healthy snack. Adventuring around the park, playing, walking and activities will fill the rest of our day before a small lunch from home. Our day ends with an oral story that often includes a puppet show.
Most of our days are spent in the forests and riparian areas of Lithia Park, centrally located in Ashland, Oregon. Little Gnomes Nature School has a special partnership with the city's Parks and Recs, which serves as our home base and support site. Nature play areas and structures, trails, shelters, ponds, wetlands, meadows, and Ashland Creek are our classroom. We also occasionally visit other parks, farms, and trails nearby.