Outdoor Preschool to Open at Carkeek Park in September

In an innovative partnership, Seattle Parks and Recreation is providing space for Tiny Trees Preschool to operate, on a pilot basis, 11 affordable, nature-rich outdoor preschool classes, helping 180 children a day at four Seattle Parks.

At Tiny Trees, 52% of the incoming class receives financial assistance. At Carkeek Park, families who make less than $72,000 a year receive free tuition through the Seattle Preschool Program Pathways. “We’re committed to creating a school where every child is welcome,” said Andrew Jay, CEO of Tiny Trees Preschool. “Making tuition affordable and investing in teachers who reflect the diversity of the neighborhoods our schools are a part of, are key to that success.”

Tiny Trees Preschool keeps costs low by eliminating the cost of building, renovating and maintaining a child care facility. Instead of spending a huge amount on bricks and mortar the school spends it on hiring and supporting great teachers. The result is a preschool that costs 80% less to start and tuition prices that are 10 or 40% below market rate. Beginning September 12, 2016, Tiny Trees will operate schools at Camp Long in West Seattle, Carkeek Park in Northwest Seattle, John C. Little Park in the Rainier Valley and Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill.

The pilot agreement illustrates Seattle Parks and Recreation’s support for the city’s Preschool Program, approved by Seattle voters in 2014 to make preschool opportunities available for all Seattle 3- and 4-year-old children. 

“This unique outdoor preschool program helps children to learn and develop while experiencing the wonder of the natural world,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre. “Supporting families in connecting their children to the natural world at an early age supports our efforts to build life-long advocates for the preservation of outdoor space and environmental stewardship.”

The Seattle Preschool Program aims to provide high quality early childhood education programs for 1,600 children a year by 2018. Tiny Trees Preschool is a provider for the Seattle Preschool Program – Pathways at Carkeek Park, and has two years to meet the quality standards for the Seattle Preschool Program.

Outdoor preschool is a concept that started in Norway, Germany and Denmark, three countries where the weather can get really cold. The model has been tested in the Northwest by Cedarsong Nature School, which has been offering year-round outdoor preschool on Vashon Island since 2006.

To make sure families are prepared for a Seattle winter, Tiny Trees provides every child a free one-piece rain suit and boots from the Vancouver, WA based company Oakiwear. Children also use picnic shelters in heavy rain and there is an emergency shelter designated at each site in case of severe weather or emergency. Tiny Trees follows the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) calendar and is closed on SPS snow days.

For more information, please visit TinyTrees.org.         

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