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Johnson Nature Center Launches TreeSchool Preschool!

Johnson Nature Center Launches TreeSchool Preschool!

A unique and incredible opportunity for families with preschool aged children is now available in Bloomfield Hills Schools: a nature-based preschool at Johnson Nature Center! TreeSchool launched on February 28th, with eleven students attending this once-a-week program. Beginning in Fall 2023, a one-day (on Wednesdays) and two-day (Tuesdays and Thursdays) program will begin, with enrollment opening this spring. TreeSchool students learn math, literacy, and creative arts, along with self-confidence, risk-taking, awareness, and social and emotional skills. Certified preschool teachers Leigh Rowe and Tracy Niyo, under the leadership of JNC and Bowers Farm Education Specialist Brooke Larm, guide preschoolers through hands-on educational experiences. 

Whether they’re learning through play in the outdoor classroom, traversing the trails, or visiting the Log Cabin, students spend the majority of their days outside, in rain, snow, or sunshine. Educational tools are situated within the classroom, and images are posted along the fencing to provide educational visual aids for the children. Early Childhood Leader Leigh Rowe shares, “I am thrilled to provide a meaningful experience that will cultivate a love and passion for nature for our 11 wonderful TreeSchoolers.” Larm, who obtained a fellowship under the guidance of trailblazing environmental educator David Sobel while at Antioch University New England, quoted Sobel during the TreeSchool Founder’s Day Celebration: “If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.” Within TreeSchool, students experience place-based learning opportunities to cultivate a love of nature and agriculture through which they grow resilience and connections within their world. Through those experiences, students are invited to make meaningful impacts in their community, forming the foundations for lifelong environmental literacy.

In the past few years, nature preschools have grown in popularity, and Washington was the first state to permanently license nature-based child care in 2021. BHS followed guidance from Washington, and is excited to bring TreeSchool to our community. Program tuition and fees largely cover staffing costs related to program operation. To continue to grow, your donation can support the purchase of new gear, supplies, equipment, and materials needed to provide high-quality programming. Visit this website, click on “Donate,” and specify “Early Childhood” to directly support TreeSchool’s work with young children.

Thank you to the JNC TreeSchool leadership team and all the community partners who helped to make this new preschool possible! Learn more about the early childhood education programs at Johnson Nature Center, including TreeSchool, by visiting the Johnson Nature Center Website.