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Nature Preschool

Combining early childhood education with environmental awareness.

About the program

We prepare our students for kindergarten through child-led and hands-on learning experiences where children can ask questions, explore materials and discover answers and solutions. We have big goals for our students – we want them to be life-long learners, creative problem solvers, caretakers of the earth and exceptional team players. A typical day at our school includes time in both our indoor and outdoor classrooms. Using our nature-based curriculum, our students spend a significant amount of time outside every day in large and small groups learning and exploring with nature. In our indoor classroom, we have created an environment that feels like home and we use items made from natural materials as much as possible. When planning our lessons, we use a whole-child approach that is focused on the individual needs and interests of our students to ensure that they are engaged and making progress in their learning. Our students are assessed on an ongoing basis to establish their needs and interests. We develop a work portfolio that we share with families at conferences two times per year.

Our program is designed for children, ages 3–5, and consists of four mixed-age preschool classes. Each class has a maximum of 20 students with three lead teachers. We also have a naturalist from Three Rivers Park District who visits our classroom. Our unique nature-based curriculum combines age-appropriate educational experiences that blends best practices from both early childhood education and environmental education, and our teachers have training in both areas. Our curriculum is developed using the Creative Curriculum format with studies that last approximately 4–6 weeks. They are based on the children’s emerging interests and skills.

Best practice and kindergarten-readiness research shows that children learn best when they have the opportunity to be hands-on with classroom materials and participate in small group activities with other children and a teacher. Inquiry-based learning methods teach children to ask questions and investigate and ultimately learn how to learn. We incorporate these practices every day and do our best to make sure we are using research-based teaching methods.

Brooklyn Park Nature Preschool has an APPLE accreditation and is licensed through the Minnesota Department of Human Services. We have also been awarded a 4-star Parent Aware rating.

A preschool group learning from an instructor.

Preschoolers look at an inchworm on a branch.

Philosophy

Every child entrusted in our care is encouraged to explore, investigate, and learn about the world around them, as well as their own individuality.  We strongly value our natural environment and meaningful outdoor experiences. 

Program goals

The goals of our program are:

  • Focus on the whole child – prepare students for kindergarten and for life
  • Develop awareness of self and the environment
  • Approach learning through both early childhood education and environmental education best practices
  • Develop stewards of the environment
  • Inclusive and equitable learning community

Communication

We will keep you updated on what we are working on and what the children are learning through daily, weekly, and monthly communication methods. We will also have a parent bulletin board you can reference for copies of our calendar, newsletters, snack lists, and more.

A parent packet with more information will be sent out in August before the start of the school year.

Class options, registration and fees

All classes are for ages 3–5 years old. Children must be three by their first day of class and have not attended Kindergarten by September 1 of the school year. Children must be fully potty-trained to attend preschool.

Classes meet September 3, 2019-May 29, 2020.

Days of the week Times Pricing
Mon/Weds/Fri 9-11:30 a.m. $258.11 per month (FULL)
Mon/Weds 12:30-3 p.m. $168.67 per month
Tues/Thurs 9-11:30 a.m. $178.89 per month (FULL)
Tues/Thurs 12:30-3 p.m. $178.89 per month (FULL)

A one-time per school year, non-refundable fee of $60 will be charged at the time of registration. We accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover or American Express cards. Personal checks should be made out to: City of Brooklyn Park.

Payment options

At time of registration, families can choose to pay the entire tuition amount or enroll in a payment plan. If full tuition is not paid at time of registration, families will be billed each month through May.

Tiered pricing options are available for Brooklyn Park residents. Please call 763-493-8333 for more information.

Brooklyn Park Nature Preschool accepts Child Care Assistance Payment (CCAP).

School tours

To arrange a classroom tour, please contact Sheri at sheri.gulenchyn@brooklynpark.org or 763-493-8167.

Open house for 2020-21 school year

The open house for the 2020-21 school year is on February 4 from 6-7:30pm at the Community Activity Center in the Preschool Room. Come meet our teaching staff, tour the classroom spaces, and learn more about what Brooklyn Park Nature Preschool has to offer.

Daily schedule

Parent/Teacher communication

Communication between parents and teachers is very important. Families are welcome to contact teaching staff at any time.

Families are updated on what the children are working on and what they are learning through daily teacher communication, Seesaw, a newsletter about each study, parent bulletin board and occasional flyers. Seesaw is a web-based application used to send and receive important messages, update you on each child’s day and communicate between families and staff. Seesaw is private and families are given individual pass codes for accessing their Seesaw account.

Conferences will be held twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. A conference may also be arranged at any time upon request.

Early Childhood Screening

Early Childhood Screening is required by the state of Minnesota and it must be completed prior to a child entering kindergarten. It is recommended that a child be screened at the age of three so any potential problems can be found early. We do not need a copy of your screening results and it is not required before your child can come to preschool.

If your child has not had Early Childhood Screening, contact your school district screening office.

Meet the staff

Sheri Gulenchyn, Director/Teacher

Sheri Gulenchyn

This is my fifth year teaching at Brooklyn Park Nature Preschool. My undergrad degree is from the University of Minnesota in elementary education and I earned my master’s degree in K-12 reading instruction from the University of St. Thomas. I have been in the education field for almost 20 years. Prior to that I had the good fortune to be an at-home-mom for 9 years.

I live in Oak Grove with my husband of 32 years and Snowball, the school’s rabbit. I have two adult children, a daughter-in-law, and two furry grand-dogs. During my free time, I enjoy doing DIY projects around the house, reading, traveling and solving logic puzzles like sudoku and the Rubik’s cube. I am delighted to have transitioned into teaching preschool. Every day brings something new and I get to experience the joy in learning through their eyes. I look forward to getting to know you and your children.

Missy Rose, teacher

Woman in front of forest

I have worked for the city of Brooklyn Park for eight years. I am excited and ready to spend another wonderful year with your preschooler outdoors. Together we will get to enjoy and observe all the seasons that Minnesota brings us.

In my spare time I love to be outside no matter the season. In the summer I love to go to my cabin and waterski. In the fall I love to harvest fruits and vegetables from my garden and cook new meals. In the winter I love to drive to the mountains to go snow skiing. Finally, in the spring I love to go on long runs to find puddles and watch the new growth come up! I am ready to enrich kids, parents, and the community with the amazing inquiry that nature provides.

Emily Rose, teacher

Woman in canoe

I am so excited to join the wonderful Nature Preschool staff. I graduated in 2019 from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. While studying there my focus was education but I could not let go of my passion for the outdoors. Working for Outdoor Pursuit I learned how it is possible to combine my teaching skills with outdoor play. I knew no matter where my first classroom was, I was going to get my students outside!

I have worked for Brooklyn Park’s summer camps for seven years. My favorite outdoor activity is canoeing. I just purchased my first canoe this past summer and have spent many days in it! Any day under the sun is a great day!