Little boots have splashed down at Tiny Trees’ new outdoor preschool location that opened at SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park on the Seattle waterfront. A collaboration with the Seattle Art Museum, this new Tiny Trees downtown Seattle location brings an affordable and nature-rich preschool choice for families. The sculpture park is used as a classroom Monday-Friday mornings with a separate class held in the afternoon Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
“We know from brain science that children learn through play, hands-on-experience, and the arts,” says Tiny Trees CEO Andrew Jay. “That’s why we’re excited to be collaborating with SAM to offer children a vibrant education in a world-class outdoor classroom.”
For the Seattle Art Museum, Tiny Trees brings a joyful presence to the Olympic Sculpture Park during the 2017-18 school year.
“As part of our mission, we are always exploring new and innovative ways to serve families and early learners in the surrounding communities,” says Sarah Bloom, SAM’s Senior Manager for Teen, Family & Multigenerational Programs.
Tiny Trees opened their first preschools in 2016 (in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation), in response to a big problem for families: childcare is expensive. In King County, families spend $12,000-$26,000 a year on full-day preschool. That is more than tuition at the University of Washington and only slightly less than housing.
Tiny Trees Preschool keeps their tuition price low by eliminating the cost of the building.
“We break down the schoolhouse walls and take the classroom outdoors,” said CEO Andrew Jay. “That means instead of spending a huge amount on bricks and mortar we spend it on what matters: hiring and supporting great teachers.”
Tiny Trees provides financial assistance for 60% of families, plus provides free preschool at three locations through the Seattle Preschool Program – Pathway (City of Seattle).
The best part is that at SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park children not only enjoy a great education, but also a glorious childhood – one full of mud puddle splashing, sand castle building, and creepy crawly catching.
“I love the idea of a public preschool surrounded by public art. Tiny Trees is a school for all families and the Olympic Sculpture Park is an outdoor museum for all people. It’s a perfect fit,” said Jay.
But what about the weather?
Tiny Trees is based on the Forest School model that was started in Sweden, Norway and Denmark over 50 years ago.
To make sure kids are prepared for a Washington winter, Tiny Trees gives every child a free Alaskan Fisherman rain suit and boots. Children also use picnic shelters in heavy rain and there is an emergency shelter designated for each location in case of severe weather or emergency. Tiny Trees follows the local public school calendar and is closed on public school snow days.
For more information, visit TinyTrees.org.