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Brooklyn Park Nature Preschool

Our nature preschool combines early childhood education with environmental awareness.

About Nature Preschool

Nature preschool prepares 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. 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. 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 is licensed through the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Any decisions for school closures/reopening will be made in conjunction with the city safety team. We have developed an extensive COVID safety plan as a program. BPNP has an APPLE accreditation and we have also been awarded a 4-star Parent Aware rating.

Our classroom is located in the Community Activity Center at 5600 85th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park, MN 55443

View map and directions to the Community Activity Center >

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. 

Nature Preschool 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

School tours

To arrange a classroom tour, please contact our teachers at teachers@brooklynpark.org or 763-488-6354.

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.

Virtual Open House available online starting February 15, 2021

Registration for new families for 2021-22 begins March 1. Please call 763-493-8333 or stop by the Community Activity Center at 5600 85th Ave. N. to register.

2021-22 classes meet September 7, 2021 – June 9, 2022.

Days Times Pricing (yearly/monthly) Number of Class Days
Mon/Weds/Fri Morning 9-11:30 a.m. $2420/$268.89 103 – One opening Nov. 1 – register by Oct. 25
Mon/Weds Afternoon 12:30-3:00 p.m. $1269/$181.28 54 – Class will start Nov. 1 – register by Oct. 25
Tues/Thurs Morning 9-11:30 a.m. $1715/$190.56 73 – Two openings Nov. 1 – register by Oct. 25
Tues/Thurs Afternoon 12:30-3 p.m. $1715/$190.56 73 – Full

Payment options

There is a $40 non-refundable registration fee per child due at the time of registration. Families can choose to pay in full or enroll in a monthly payment plan. There are 9 payments (September-May).

Fee assistance is available based on income for Brooklyn Park residents. Please let us know at the time of registration if you need fee assistance and our office staff will set that up for you. The income guidelines are listed in the table below.

We are an authorized provider that can accept Childcare Assistance Plan (CCAP) funds from Hennepin and Anoka Counties. Please let us know if you would like to use CCAP funds or need help completing the application. CCAP funds can be used if you are a resident or non-resident of Brooklyn Park.

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

Tiered Pricing

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 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, Teacher

Sheri Gulenchyn

I have been working at Brooklyn Park Nature Preschool since before we shifted to a nature preschool model. 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 over 20 years.

I live in Oak Grove with my husband. We have two adult children, a daughter-in-law, a new grand-daughter, and two furry grandbabies. We share our home with two Holland Lop rabbits named Onyx and Angel. During my free time, I enjoy doing projects around the house, reading, and solving word puzzles, sudoku, strategy games, and the Rubik’s cube. I am delighted to have transitioned into teaching preschool because every day brings something new, and I get to experience things with them for the first time. 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 nine years. I received my undergraduate from the college of Saint Benedict and Saint Johns University in elementary education, this is the place where I fell in love with nature and discovered the educational ability it provides to kids. 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.

Abbey Pattison, Teacher MWF

This is my 16th year teaching preschool at Brooklyn Park.  I have been in several positions over the years including classroom aide, lead teacher, substitute teacher, and program director.  I oversaw the transition from a traditional teaching model to our current nature-based model and I truly believe the outdoors is the best learning environment.  I am thrilled to be back in the classroom as a lead teacher and getting to introduce kids to all of the wonderful things nature has to offer!  I have a master’s degree in occupational therapy and I specialized in pediatrics.  I am so thankful to have that experience and to be able to apply that knowledge to my teaching.

I live in Maple Grove with my husband, Gabe, and our son, Oliver.  We spend as much time together as a family as possible.  We enjoy being at our family cabin and out on the lake, taking walks, playing games, traveling, and spending time with friends.  One of our favorite summer night activities is watching movies in our backyard on our big inflatable movie screen.  In the few moments I have to myself I really enjoy reading, sewing, and cooking.  I can’t wait for another great school year!

Brie Max, Teacher TTH

I am entering my first-year teaching at Brooklyn Park Nature Preschool and I couldn’t be more excited. I studied Recreation at the Winona State University and graduated in 2020. While there, my focus was Community and non-profit recreation, but I could not let go of my passion for the outdoors. I participated in the Recreation Student Association where I was able to go out and explore nature all around out campus! I also took Coursework in outdoor education where I was able to study exploration of the out-of-doors as a medium to enhance cognitive, affective, and psychomotor learning for persons of all ages. In my spare time I enjoy visiting national, state, and regional parks to go hiking and to explore the different parts of the nature all around us. I am excited to be able to share my passion with each of the students as I get to know each of them!

COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

BPNP has been given permission by DHS to hold preschool entirely outside, weather permitting. A full copy of our preparedness plan is distributed in the handbook. Provided below is a summary of the frequently asked questions.

Frequent handwashing – Brooklyn Park Nature Preschool (BPNP) requires staff and students to wash hands upon arrival, after outdoor free play, before snack, after snack, after using the bathroom or a tissue, after coughing or sneezing into hands, and after learning centers. Staff will also wash hands before preparing or serving snack. Student hand washing will be monitored by staff. Hand washing stations will be set up outside. When washing with soap and water is not available, a hand sanitizing solution with at least 60% alcohol will be used. Staff will administer the sanitizer, monitor that students rub it onto all hand surfaces until it has been completely absorbed, and keep it out of reach of children.

Cleaning and Disinfecting – BPNP staff will wear gloves and face mask when cleaning and then disinfecting. BPNP staff will launder/sanitize face masks daily.

Arrival and Departure –

Arrival -Student drop off will take place outside. Only allow one parent/guardian to bring child to the teacher at the check-in table near the playground. We recommend parents wear a mask. ­­Parents are required to return to their vehicle as quickly as possible. Parents/caregivers will not be allowed in the building at drop-off.

Departure – At the end of the day, BPNP will have staggered pick-up times. Parents/caregivers will pull up to the loading zone in the cul-de-sac near the nature play area at their designated time. Parents wait by their car until a teacher brings their child to their car. The teacher will sign the child out choosing the person picking up from the parent/guardian approved list.

Plans for sick children, staff, and volunteers – BPNP will take the following steps when a student or staff member develops any symptoms of illness consistent with COVID-19:

  • Isolate the person in a separate room (or area outside) while they wait to be picked up or until they can leave the facility on their own.
  • BPNP will ensure that hygiene supplies are available, including a cloth face covering or face shield, facial tissues, and alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Staff who are monitoring the student or staff member with symptoms will wear a cloth face mask and practice social distancing.
  • Close off the space used for isolation after the ill person leaves. Area will be cleaned or disinfected Open outside doors and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the area.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as high-touch surfaces, and items they have touched (e.g., individual desk, recently used toys, shared equipment).

BPNP will contact MDH at health.schools.covid19@state.mn.us and follow their directions.

Based on MDH recommendations, preschool families will be notified via Seesaw and email.

Source control and cloth face coverings – BPNP staff will wear face masks when indoors. Children at BPNP will be required to wear a face mask if we must be indoors for more than just snack time.

Additional Topics being addressed: Social distancing throughout the day, workplace ventilation, playground use, meals and snacks, field trips and events, time outside, communication and training.