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Students care for a young tree planted
during a previous visit

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A student explores the vibrant colors
of the natural world

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Some of our youngest students beginning their first hike in the Natural Classroom

Natural Classroom Program

The mission of the Stretch Natural Classroom is to create the space that allows young children the time and freedom to build a relationship with nature and each other, allowing children to see themselves as a part of the natural world rather than separate from it. Through this, we hope to plant the seed of stewardship in this next generation, while supporting Stretch’s commitment to cultivating a sense of wonder, magic, and ultimately a love of learning.

The mission of the Stretch Natural Classroom is to
create the space that allows young children to
see themselves as a part of the natural world
rather than separate from it.

If your child is in our 2-day program they will start exploring in the Natural Classroom when they are in our 3-day program or 5-day program. Our young twos who only come to school 2 days/week do not go to the Natural Classroom weekly but may visit for a field trip during the year.

When out in The Presidio forest we strive to give children freedom in their explorations and the space to challenge their bodies physically in ways we cannot here at school.  We are very intentional about our desire to have them explore and be free and yet always remain certain that they are safe. In these beginning weeks and at times throughout the year the children will be very tired at the end of their day in nature. It is amazing to see how the children build their stamina and endurance throughout there time in the Presidio. It is also wonderful to witness how they come to know and love our magical urban forest.

As with all elements of our program, the structure
of the program in the Natural Classroom is emergent
and develops from the observations and interests
of the children.

Finally, there are sometimes wonderings that come up about the structure of the program in the Natural Classroom. Where is the curriculum? We want to take the time to reiterate that the mission behind this unique program of connecting young children with nature is to give them time to explore freely. And, as with all elements of our program, it is emergent and develops from the observations and interests of the children. While the teachers have threads they are following and interests they are observing, there is not a set agenda to the Natural Classroom other than to encourage children to explore and connect with nature.  As the year progresses, the teachers may guide specific explorations and experiences to further the work they are developing with the children. Parents inevitably hear about the different dimensions of the experiences in nature in our journals as the year develops.  This intention of free exploration is, however, based on extensive thought and research on how children at this age play when connected to the natural world and the benefits that result.

— Parent