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Wonder Keepers Preschool

Children in Nearby Nature’s all outdoor preschool program enjoy nature discovery and adventure in our Learnscape Outdoor Classroom and in Alton Baker Park. Sensory exploration, cooperative activities, storytelling, garden discovery, earth art, nature science, and free time in our outdoor play spaces make every day both educational and fun. Through Wonder Keepers, young children develop a personal connection to the natural world, make new friends, and develop independence through outdoor exploring.

WHERE:

  • All outdoors at Nearby Nature’s Learnscape and in Alton Baker Park. Children have a myriad of opportunities to connect with nature in our unique outdoor classroom spaces (Hazelnut Hollow, Squirrel Kitchen, Pollinators’ Playground, and Frog Haven). Our natural play areas (Nature’s Builders Playspace, the Dig Inn Dirt Box, River Run, the Nest, the Sound Garden, and our wonderful sandbox) make learning and play truly hands-on.
  • Students should always come dressed for the weather. Rain jackets, rain boots, rain pants, hats, mittens, and/or warm coats are essential in the cold and wet months. Covered outdoor areas are available in case of inclement weather.

WHO:

  • Max 10 preschool children ages 3-5 per day.
  • One paid instructor plus at least one other adult assistant/intern/volunteer staff each program day.
  • Minimum ratio of one adult for every five children.
  • Staff instructors are all experienced educators who have spent many hours outdoors teaching and exploring with children. See instructor bios here.
  • All staff instructors are First Aid/CPR certified, have passed background checks, and are vaccinated for COVID-19.

WHEN:

  • 8:30am-12:30pm, Monday/Wednesday/Friday (option to enroll for one, two, or three days per week, as space is available).
  • Flexible drop off and pick up first and last 30 minutes.
  • 2024-25 sessions will open for online application on the afternoon of April 19, 2024
  • Dates for 2024-25:
    • Fall 2024 = September 16 – December 13 (no program November 11 or the week of Thanksgiving November 25-29)
    • Winter 2025 = January 6 – March 21 (no program January 20, February 17, or the week of Spring Break March 24-29
    • Spring 2025 = March 31 – June 13th (no program May 26)

APPLICATION PROCESS:

  • An online application is required for all participants, both new and returning. Once you apply, if you are a new applicant, we will contact you to discuss whether or not our all-outdoor, all-weather program is a good match for your child.
  • Priority application for registration for 2024-25 will open on the afternoon of April 19th and end May 6th. Enrollment applications will be processed in this order: 1) staff member’s children, 2) last year’s/current Wonder Keeper applicants, 3) siblings of last year’s/current Wonder Keepers, 4) Wonder Keepers wait-list applicants/inquiries from the prior year, 5) new wait-list applicants, 6) Nearby Nature program attendees from any program, 7) general applicants. Once the priority application period is over, additional applications (for spots still open or that open up due to cancellations) will be processed as space is available in the same priority order.
  • Applicants will be alerted about their enrollment status once the priority application period is finished and all applications have been processed (or as soon as possible after their application if their registration inquiry comes in mid-season).
  • Once your child has been approved for enrollment, we will register you for your chosen program day/s and alert you about your non-refundable deposit/registration fees due.
  • Feel free to call 541-687-9699 (leave a message for Director Beth Stein) or email info@nearbynature.org for more information.

COSTS:

Costs below are for one day a week and vary depending how many of that day are program days per session. Two or three days a week are also available. Register for each day independently online.

SCHOLARSHIP AID:

Financial aid is available through our Every Child Outside Fund. Nearby Nature believes all children should have affordable access to outdoor adventures in nature nearby. To apply for aid, fill out the Scholarship section in our online application form. If you are applying past the Priority Application period (April 19-May 6, 2024) use the coupon code ECO at online checkout so you will not be charged until we agree on your financial aid.

REGISTRATION and PAYMENT:

  • When you apply/register online, you will create an account and your registration information will be saved for future programs.
  • Once your enrollment is confirmed, a minimum non-refundable deposit of $50 per day of the week session is required to hold your program space. Your full tuition will be due two weeks before your session/s start (or immediately if you are enrolling mid-session).
  • Payments can be made by credit card online or in person/by mail with check or cash.
  • Note: Enrollment is on-going. We will prorate your fees due according to when you enroll.
  • Returning families — please review and update your online information yearly. 
  • If registering online or paying a deposit in advance is not possible for you, or you would prefer to make a payment by check or in cash, please contact us to make arrangements.

Additional Information

Cancellation Policy for Wonder Keepers

(Note that this policy is different from our shorter term programs policy.)

Nearby Nature hopes your year goes as planned and you will not need to withdraw your child from this program. We do understand, however, that sometimes cancellations are unavoidable. If you need to cancel your preschool registration, please do so as far in advance as possible.

  • Cancellation by 6pm on Monday three weeks before your program starts = full refund minus the non-refundable $50 deposit per day of the week ($25 per day of the week for scholarship recipients).
  • Cancellation by 6pm on Monday two weeks before your program starts = 50% refund of full session tuition.
  • No refunds for cancellations after 6pm on Monday two weeks before your program starts or for cancellations mid-session.
  • Cancellation by us may happen if there is insufficient enrollment seven days prior to a program session. You will be notified promptly and your full payment refunded.

Questions?

Contact our Garden and Programs Manager, Grace Chollar-Webb, at 541-687-9699 or email programs@nearbynature.org if you have any questions or problems with registration. Please leave a phone number with your voicemail or email if you are having registration problems so that we can solve these as quickly as possible.