I'm looking for some kind of outdoor school for my son who is kindergarten age next year.
I don't want him sitting at a desk doing academics for several hours a day. Not for a few years. (I do highly value education, but don't believe an academic focus has any place in the early years.)
Homeschooling is not a solution for us. He is highly social and he craves being in nature as much as possible. I have to take care of younger children and a home and can't be exploring the outdoors on hiking trails with him all day.
Is there any kind of early elementary school program that is outdoors-based? Something that is at least a few days a week throughout the school year, not just some summer camp program?
Please do send me a private message since I might miss your post. Thank you so much for your help.
It might be too far, but there is a Waldorf school in Santa Cruz near UCSC. I think it's just called "Santa Cruz Waldorf". Or you could look into the Mt Madonna Center's school. I don't know how much time they spend outside, but it could be worth looking into.
Thanks everyone! There doesn't seem to be any Waldorf alternatives. (Waldenwest seems to be just a temporary program for 4th/5th graders, not a full fledged school.)
Will check out Mt Madonna.
Will continue to dream about outdoor schools and schools that delay formal academics :)
How about Njeri's Morning Glory School in San Jose? We're relocating to the area in a couple months and I came across this K-5 Waldorf school while looking for options for my son, who will also be in kindergarten this Fall.
I'm also curious about Cedarwood Sudbury School in Santa Clara, but it looks like it's no longer in operation.
My daughter goes to the Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Los Altos, about a 20 min drive from San Jose. I teach full time, so she carpools with another family. She started in Nursery, and is now finishing her 2nd year of Kindergarten, and heading to 1st grade next year.
My experience with her early childhood schooling has been very positive. In Nursery and Kinder, they spend a good amount of time outside playing, climbing, poking around in the dirt - she comes home pretty dirty, and that tells me she's been doing what kids should be doing! Every day has a food theme; soup day, porridge day, bread day (they help make it) etc. If you are familiar with Waldorf you know everything is nature-based. Playing, drawing, crafting, finger-knitting, building, pretend play, songs, verbal stories, rhymes etc. build an extremely strong language/vocabulary base, great auditory processing skills and memory.
As a public school teacher I cannot afford the whole tuition, and they have a very workable tuition adjustment program. At the tuition adjustment meetings I have been treated with such warmth and respect, even gratitude from the staff that my child and I are part of the community. It is a vital, inviting community.
When I lived in the Sierras and went through the tuition adjustment meeting at the Live Oak Waldorf School in Meadow Vista, the energy was unfortunately quite different. I almost felt that I was supposed to feel shamed for applying for the program, and there was a sense of suspicion, as if they didn't trust folks to be honest regarding their financial situation. Also, they limit the lowest monthly tuition at $400 which is prohibitive for many folks these days, and have lost a good number of students as a result. Despite this, the community is also vital, warm and inviting.