Welcome to Wandering Families Outdoor Preschool!


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Welcome VideoChildren with ExceptionalitiesPhilosophy and Curriculum
Why an Outdoor School?Meet Our StaffOur Daily Schedule
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Welcome Video


For Children With Exceptionalities

Although we are not a public school, we strive to prepare our children to enter kindergarten in a public school setting. Because we receive state funding, we also follow OSPI’s (Office of the Superintendent) of Washington laws and regulations regarding IEPs and 504 plans.

We want you to know that you have a right to be involved in your child’s education. The Individuals with Disability Act (IDEA) applies to all students, ages 3-21, and so not only are you entitled to an Individualized Education Plan for your child, you are also entitled to have the plan carried out by any local education agency that you engage with.

– We hold parent teacher conferences in-line with the elementary school schedule and will ensure that we provide times outside of our normal business hours to accommodate working parents during our conference weeks. (OSPI, n.d.)

– We have an annual graduation party for all of our students who are moving on to kindergarten, or just moving on.

– We keep this page updated with our favorite resources that we think might help you as well.

– Our staff is alway happy to answer any questions you might have regarding what your child is learning and how their day went.

– Periodically we also have events with adjacent agencies, such as Toothsavers, The Music Man, and the Second Hand Ranch (a mobile petting zoo that lets our students read stories to bunnies and goats).

**We’ve found that children with exceptionalities enjoy our special events, but can also become overstimulated. That’s OK. We always have a back-up plan and a member of our staff who is happy to provide a quiet place for any overstimulation.**


Our Philosophy and Curriculum

WHOP’s curriculum is based on Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods”. We acknowledge that nature is built into our DNA and that children learn better, are well-adjusted, and have higher emotional and social relations (Lanza et al, 2022) when they are allowed to play freely in nature.  

Because play should be unstructured, we take a hands-off approach to creating formal lessons, worksheets, and lectures.  What we do have is informal lessons, pre-planned for the season, with supplies that will stimulate imagination but also build skills such as architecture, physics, chemistry, math, and creativity. We have story time where children are allowed to wander and are not forced to sit still in the big circle.  Each year we assist children in creating “sit mats” where they can decorate.  The sit mat is a visual representation of their own personal space and encourages children to check in with each other, through invitations to play and join their peers.

In addition to receiving continuing educational classes as educators, we dive into the current research and laws regarding children with exceptionalities.  We believe that an outdoor classroom is optimum for all children but also strive to make any accommodations and modifications for all of our students.  Paths for wheelchairs are throughout our space, to ensure the least restrictive play environment for children with physical disabilities. This allows all children to engage with their peers.  Our inclusive design also includes raised beds in the garden that are waist height and sitting height so that any child can pull up and stick a shovel in the dirt. If your child already has an IEP issued by our local school district, we would love to get a copy and implement any elements that we can.


Why an Outdoor School?

Some of our fondest memories are from playing outside.  We tried to “dig a hole to China” and play spy around the neighborhood. We took risks and discovered, without our parents telling us, that some of those risks weren’t such a good idea.  We were allowed to figure out the world based on our own discoveries through playing outdoors, instead of a lecture from our parents. 

But beyond the anecdotal evidence, there is strong evidence that being outdoors and connecting to nature provides:

  • Exposure to good bacteria in the soil reduces the risk of illness. Dirt is healing.  There’s microbes in the soil that have been studied to have an antidepressant chemical. (Francis, 2010)
  • The sensory stimulation of jumping in puddles and into piles of leaves,digging holes, and squishing in the mud has strong proprioceptive benefits. So does pushing a wheelbarrow, or stacking logs from one place to another.
  • Balancing on logs and stumps provides core development and gross motor skills.  In order to develop fine motor skills for writing and reading, gross motor skills must develop first.
  • Whenever winter is on the way, we northerners are going to lose sight of the dirt soon when snow covers the ground.  Why not let our students enjoy their fun before the ground turns into an ice block, and then we’ll find new things to do with the snow.
  • With childhood obesity at epidemic levels (CDC, 2022), playing outside, instead of sitting inside without the ability to run and climb, offers an opportunity for children to gain cardio health and muscle strength.


Meet Our Staff

Our owner and head teacher is Miss Tori W. Miss Tori has two children with ADHD and has devoted her career to ensuring that children with exceptionalities are given an opportunity to learn in an informal, natural environment to ensure maximum play through learning. Miss Tori believes that informal does not equal unstructured and that when children are given the opportunity to try new things and take risks in a structured, outdoor environment, that they will learn a tremendous amount of knowledge and new skills.

Miss Tori currently holds two degrees. One degree in legal studies, and another in education studies. This means that she has a passion for research and pulling out data in a format that parents can digest and apply in their own homes, if they so choose. She also regularly surpasses the 10 hours of yearly continuing education as required by Washington State Law.

In addition to a passion for research, Miss Tori enjoys impromptu dance parties, hiking for rejuvenation, and being very silly whenever possible (especially playing in the mud kitchen at school).


Our Daily Schedule

We have two blocks of time each weekday, excluding holidays.

Our morning block is Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. with a lunch and pick up at 12:30

Our afternoon block is Monday – Friday 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. and students are welcome to join us for lunch at 12:30 if you would like.

We do not currently offer full-day curriculum.


Contact Us

Please feel free to give us a call at (509) 555-WFOP (9367) to schedule a tour of our preschool facilities.


Resources/References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, May 17). Childhood obesity facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html 

Francis, R. (2010, October 31). Why gardening makes you happy and cures depression. Permaculture College Australia – at Djanbung Gardens. Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://permaculture.com.au/why-gardening-makes-you-happy-and-cures-depression/#:~:text=Getting%20your%20hands%20dirty%20in,and%20strengthens%20the%20immune%20system.

Lanza, K., Alcazar, M., Chen, B., & Kohl, H. W. (2022, December 19). Connection to nature is associated with social-emotional learning of children. Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology. Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666622722000508#:~:text=Our%20findings%20suggest%20that%20children,nature%20to%20improve%20SEL%20skills. 

Parent and family engagement. OSPI. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2023, from https://www.k12.wa.us/policy-funding/grants-grant-management/closing-educational-achievement-gaps-title-i-part/title-i-part-parent-and-family-engagement 



*Please Note*

This is a mockup webpage created for my Exceptional Child course as a final project. The phone number and existence of such a preschool does NOT exist. Please do not attempt to call or register.