About Salamander Nature Awareness School & Preschool Classes
Our forest preschool
Salamander Nature Awareness School is a small preschool program taking preschoolers on outdoor adventures daily. Our 2 day forest preschool classes of 3 to 5 year-olds spend time in the beautiful Vasona Lake County park here in Silicon Valley. Parent and Child classes for 2 to 3 year olds are offered on a varying basis (see below). The children hike, play with each other and what they find, hear stories and enjoy a healthy lunch (that you provide) out in nature. As many studies show, allowing children to experience nature regularly is important for their physical, emotional, social and intellectual development. The teacher shares her love of nature and environmental stewardship with the children. Their health and safety is of primary importance as they have time for child directed play and learn to interact with care for each other and nature. Salamander School offers a unique preschool experience meeting this spacious park in Los Gatos.
Your child, age 3-5 years old, can be in a 2-day forest preschool class on Tuesday and Thursdays OR Monday and Fridays from 9:30am-1pm, with five other drop-off children for the school year. Enrolling in both classes may be an option. Depending on enrollment one or three days a week may be available. Summers usually are Monday and Wednesday and/or Tuesday and Thursdays with some Fridays. Students will explore and observe nature with the teacher and grow socially with their peers. The class will focus on building their connection to nature and emotional awareness. Your child will use all their senses to develop physically, emotionally and intellectually. The teacher can share observations about your child's development with you.
To apply for School Year classes, please go to the Application page.
Preschool Summer Sessions
1 or 2 week Summer sessions for ages 3-6 years old, so there may be up to eight drop-off children, as described above may still be available after existing students register in early February. For more Summer Sessions information, please go to the Application page.
Parent & Child Classes (during the school year and summer sessions)
Join your 2 to 3 year old child(ren) in a series of once (or twice) a week forest preschool classes from 9:30-11:30am (or 12:30pm) at the park, with up to 10 other children. The teacher will lead parents and children in circle gatherings and on nature hikes. The class will encourage the children to socialize and connect with their environment. Parents are asked to keep cellphones off, focus on the beauty of nature and see their child using all of their senses. The teacher will interact with your child and observe if they are ready to join a drop-off nature based class. Siblings may be able to attend with prior agreement from the teacher and payment for children over age 2. You will bring your own water and snack and are responsible for your own children. Priority will be given to these students when applying for dropoff classes when they turn three.
To apply for Parent & Child classes, please go to the Application page.
Founder and Teacher
Salamander Nature Awareness School is a small forest preschool program taking three to five year olds on outdoor adventures daily in a county park in Silicon Valley. They explore and observe nature with the teacher and grow socially with their peers, using all their senses to develop physically, emotionally and intellectually. Two year olds can join the class with their parent in the circle gatherings and on the nature hikes. Parents keep cellphones off, to focus on seeing their child experiencing the beauty of nature.
Born and raised in Hawaii, I enjoyed swimming in the warm ocean, seeing waterfalls in tropical forests and double rainbows. Banana, papaya, mango, and coconut trees grew in yards along with brightly colored flowers, while birds and geckos were often seen and heard. So many of my senses were engaged with my surroundings, it was paradise. This experience of the natural world I wanted for my own children while living in Silicon Valley. So I sought out like minded parent groups, a forest preschool and early childhood educators.
I became part of the inaugural Tiny Treks class for two year olds and their parents to meet in different parks. When my son turned three, he joined Leaping Lizards Nature Awareness Preschool where the founding teacher took six children on hikes two mornings a week. My son loved the adventures in nature and grew socially those two years. When my daughter turned three, I accompanied her as a forest preschool aide. It was magical to see the children develop their curiosity, coordination, endurance, verbal and social skills in nature. When her two years ended, I was heart-broken to leave the class and realized how valuable time in nature was for me too!
Next at Mulberry School, I participated in my children's classrooms with cooking, science, math, and spelling; I supervised on the playground and field trips though 5th grade. Being at a parent participation school was such a gift for my children because of the education that I received on child development from the wonderful teachers and other caring parents. Serving on the school board, I organized parent education speakers, began the Kindergarten Readiness Night, and proposed that the school join the Common Ground Speaker Series. When my children moved on to middle school at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, I helped WSP join Common Ground. It's nationally known speakers highlighted how exercise improves our mood, health and brain development, and the science behind the benefits of time in nature.
Starting in 2010, Rudolf Steiner's views of education became my focus with his whole child approach, learning from the natural world, and protecting childhood. While doing my Waldorf teacher training through Steiner College in Fair Oaks, I became a substitute teacher at WSP. I also completed five years of Spacial Dynamics movement training, including how to teach archery, discus, javelin and fencing.
From 2015-16 I was the two-day assistant teacher at Leaping Lizards before the founder retired. Being back hiking with preschoolers reinforced how this fundamental need for children to be in nature has grown even more critical as technology has become so pervasive in our lives. With a masters in electrical engineering and having worked for Hewlett-Packard in the cellular industry, I believe children need to fully experience childhood with less technology in order to thrive. So I began working on creating my own forest preschool and attended Antioch University's Nature Based Early Childhood Education training program and Forest Kindergarten Teachers' conferences. I decided to focus on place based outdoor education and having children experience the seasons at one large park.
I started Salamander Nature Awareness School in 2017 as both my children are were off to college. I have taken additional Waldorf early childhood training these past few years since Covid started. Helping families during the pandemic has increased my appreciation for how much we need to be a community. Our program restarted after the minimum 3 month Covid closure and families have been so cautious and committed, that we have not had an exposure in class!
Salamander School is a forest preschool which serves a diverse group of students whose parents come from many parts of the US and the world. I enjoy collaborating with parents to nurture their children out in nature!
Forest Preschool Teacher
Nature Based Early Childhood Educator
CPR and First Aid trained
Certified and insured as required by California State Law
Salamander School does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin.
Use our application form to enroll.
The very health of the child for the rest of its life is largely determined by what goes on in its environment during its early years, certainly the first five.-- Gilbert Childs