Waldorf Inspired OUTDOOR PRESCHOOL/kindergarten for Ages 4-5

Forest Friends is a Waldorf-inspired nature-connection Kindergarten/Preschool program where four and five year olds are bathed in rich cultural experiences that are interwoven with the enchantments of the natural world. There is no better learning environment than a magical forest classroom of oaks and bays, or a cozy farm garden surrounded by wild rolling hills, where our classes are spontaneously joined by a diversity of other plants and creatures that are sure to touch hearts and enliven imaginations.  In these outdoor classrooms, children develop a deep connection to place while they also develop all the skills and abilities that will allow them to thrive as they go forward in life.

In this Waldorf-inspired Nature Connection preschool/kindergarten program children are invited to fall in love with Earth, with each other, and with life itself.

Master teacher and nature-connection facilitator, Kelly McMenimen, along with the talented Ruby Pinyuh-Derovan and other skilled and loving teachers (at a ratio of 1:5), will guide your children as they grow strong and true within a community of nature-connected culture.  As Waldorf-trained teachers, we engage the young children in ways that will quicken, cultivate, and protect the sense of wonder that they naturally have for the world.  We are also committed to helping them develop strength of will through engaging them in a variety of purposeful and meaningful work activities. Click HERE to read our teacher bios.


Kelly embodies a rare combination of humility, generosity of spirit, joy, and genuine kindness. She is able to touch the hearts of others around her with ease, uncommon grace and a marked groundedness. Moreover, Kelly is able to spark spirit, elicit laughter and impart wisdom with genuine charm and an inimitable, soft, elegance. She is the leader/teacher that children will remember for the duration of their lives, because her gifts, lessons, and influence have left such an indelible mark. She leads by mindful example and with a profound amount of experience on hand. Our trust in her inherent capabilities, her responsibility, her ability to tend to the overall class of children and also to lend individualized instruction/care are concrete.
— Mother of a 5 year old girl
My son would usually rather not go anywhere—he always prefers to stay at home with family. But he loves going to your program. He told me, “It’s like being at home, only we’re outside.”
— Mother of a 5 year old boy

Curriculum and environments that facilitate optimum child development

Children will be held in the embrace of the forest as they are introduced to rich language and song as well as rhythm, counting, and movement activities during circle time.  Children will have opportunities to engage in nature exploration, purposeful and artful nature crafts, primitive skills, and free nature play.  Through nature-connected stories, games and theatre, they will develop imagination and come to know and empathize with “all our relations”—the various fascinating and lovable species that inhabit the garden of Earth around us.  As they come to know the world and themselves in all these ways, they will have optimal opportunities for sensory awakening and motor and brain development.

Forest Friends will also have exposure to foreign languages (Spanish and Portuguese, possibly others as well). 

Social and Emotional Learning

Children will be gently guided toward fully embodied presence, and will begin to learn to identify and express feelings and needs.   They will be in the perfect environment to develop naturally while they simultaneously learn what it means to be fully human, with age-appropriate guidance toward the capacities for empathy, integrity, generosity, faithfulness, self-care, and love.  

Harmony with the Seasons

Our stories, circles, and hand-crafts change as the seasons change.  For instance, we may be inspired by Squirrel to grind acorns into flour in the autumn, respond naturally to Brother Rain by building shelters in the winter, or imitate Robin by making nests in the spring. 



The program will include 3-4 seasonal celebrations for the whole family, a birthday honoring ceremony for each child, and educational parent evenings once a month (one parent required).  The children will also perform at least one play for friends and family. 


During Thursdays at Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma, children will have an opportunity experience a farm in all its seasons and be close to the land year-round. There are baby animals and plants to tend, seeds to sew, soil to rake and care for, and food to harvest. Spending time working and playing on a farm allows for sensory integration, and opportunities to engage in meaningful work. There are chances to practice gross motor skills while shoveling and wheel-barrowing, and fine motor skills while delicately pulling weeds from a garden bed and tying beans to a pole. Work on the farm will be interwoven with stories and songs, helping the children deepen their relationship with the land and each other. Through tending and caring for the land, children are cultivating a deeper relationship with the Earth and with the processes of life.

SCHOOL YEAR / Schedule / HOlidays

School Year: September 5th, 2017 to June 14, 2018

Forest Friends Kindergarten is 3 days a week in San Rafael. Additionally, we have an optional Forest Friends Farm Day (1 day a week at a farm in Petaluma) that you can add. 

Forest Friends Kindergarten - China Camp, San Rafael:
Days: Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays
Times: 9:30am to 2:00pm

Forest Friends Farm Day - Tara Firma Farms, Petaluma: 
Day: Thursday
Times: 9:30am to 2:00pm

If you need aftercare it may be possible, please contact us.

School Breaks & Holidays: A week off at Thanksgiving, 3 weeks off in December-January, and two separate weeks off in the spring.  Other holidays:  MLK day and Memorial day


Forest Friends Kindergarten: $350 deposit + $700 per month from Sep 1st to May 1st
School Year: September 5th, 2017 to June 14, 2018

Forest Friends Kindergarten + Forest Friends Farm Day: $450 deposit + $900 per month from Sep 1st to May 1st
School Year: September 5th, 2017 to June 14, 2018

Scholarships available.

Several homeschool charters will significantly subsidize this program. Contact us to find out more!


Whenever you are ready, you can fill out the application and pay the application fee.  After review of the application, the director will contact you to set up an interview with one or both of the parents and a time to meet your child if she has not already done so.  If everyone is in agreement that your family and this program are a good fit, then you can pay your deposit and enroll your child. 

(Even if registration is closed, signing up mid-session may be possible. Contact us)

Additional Details


In the event of sustained inclement weather, we can set up a large stand-up tent and a tent-safe heater, filling it with blankets and pillows and using such a day for crafting, storytelling, and theatre.  If there are days that are too windy for this, we are looking into spaces we might be able to rent, particularly one near Wildcare in San Rafael, where we could also go and visit the wild animals that are being cared for.  (We'd like to get a space with a kitchen so we could do projects with things we have collected in nature on any indoor days.  Let us know if you have ideas) 


Families will be asked to limit media exposure for children in this program.  See application for further details.


A limited number of partial scholarships are available.  Award amounts may not be verified until enrollment numbers are determined.  If your family sincerely needs assistance to be able to afford this program, please apply for a scholarship by clicking HERE.

Refund policy and commitment

Running a kindergarten requires planning ahead, so we need your full commitment.  When you sign up, you are committing to the whole year, and regardless of attendance you are agreeing to pay 9 monthly tuition payments at the beginning of each month, Sept--May.  At registration, you will be asked to pay a deposit equal to half of your monthly tuition.  This deposit will cover the two weeks in June at the end of the school year, but will be non-refundable if for any reason your family does not continue for the whole year.  If you move away or have an extended illness or some other pressing issue that precludes your child’s continuation in the program, we will talk to you about a workable solution for all. If you strongly prefer to just commit to one semester at a time, this may be possible--contact the director.  

Today my daughter made us all be very quiet while climbing into the car at Chrissy Field. Amid all the noise from traffic and people she pointed out the lovely sound of a bird. We watched until we saw him fly off. She also ran to me yesterday to show me a flock of geese flying over head. Priceless knowledge and awareness. I’m forever grateful.
— Mother of a 5 year old girl