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Under the Trees Forest Preschool encourages children to explore the outdoors

COURTESY PHOTO: UNDER THE TREES FOREST PRESCHOOL  - Lead teacher, Samantha Dorsch, helps students practice writing the letter B in the sand.  Under the Trees Forest Preschool is a new alternative preschool in Troutdale that provides children with outdoor centered education and exploration.

The program meets at Glenn Otto Park, Troutdale and is the only completely outdoor, fully masked and socially distanced preschool in the Gresham-Troutdale area.

The preschool still has openings for the 2021-22 school year in both of its programs, which are listed on its website.

Lead teacher Samantha Dorsch combines her experience as a licensed Oregon teacher (PreK-8) and as a camp director with the Oregon Department of Education Early Learning Standards to develop a special curriculum for Under the Trees Forest Preschool.

"We blend early literacy, early mathematics, art and science with the outdoors to help develop a well-rounded preschooler," Dorsch said. "Unlike being indoors, our students are constantly experiencing changing weather, seasons and the movement of wildlife around them. No two days are exactly alike."

COURTESY PHOTO: UNDER THE TREES FOREST PRESCHOOL  - Students studying a woolly bear caterpillar at Under the Trees Forest.  Daily activities include walks in the woods, observing wildlife and interacting with the natural world. Children will also practice early preschool skills like number recognition, counting and reading readiness in a nature-based context. Under the Trees Forest Preschool's centers will include a playground, a mud kitchen and additional centers that are given a new theme weekly.

"We're a good fit for families who are comfortable with their preschooler getting dirty while learning, exerting a lot of energy, and being outdoors," Dorsch said. "We supply all families with a gear list to help make sure students are appropriately dressed for different possible weather. We are outdoors for the entire program- rain or shine!"

Under the Trees Forest Preschool adheres to CDC guidelines and all local and state guidelines for COVID prevention. The school also serves families seeking a nature-based preschool experience and a unique COVID-safe alternative, especially for families with preschoolers who are at high risk for COVID complications or who live in homes with high risk family members.

For more information about Under the Trees Forest Preschool, enrollment and costs visit its website.

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