Nature Pre-k -- All outdoor program & Redshirting

Hi All,

We recently moved to the Bay Area and are trying to find a nature pre-school for our child.  Are there any full-day programs where the children are outside all/most the day, weather permitting?  We are coming from a wonderful program on the East Coast where the kids were in a 340 acre park with partially outdoor and fully outdoor options-- indoor was Reggio inspired.  Looking for something similar.

Also looking for experiences on successfully redshirting a 5 year old for kindergarten in OUSD.  Again, this wasn't an issue where we're coming from but I've heard from a couple people that it's difficult to do in the Bay Area?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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An easy way to redshirt your child is to enroll your kindergarten-eligible child in TK instead. That way you get an extra year of free schooling. You also are likely to have an easier shot at getting into the school of your choice if your child enters in TK, because there are fewer applicants for TK than K.

A lot of parents, teachers, and even principals insist that OUSD does not allow this, but they do. My son enrolled in TK when he was eligible for K, and I know others at other OUSD schools who have done it. You might encounter pushback from teachers or principals, but the enrollment office has final say about what children are enrolled where. I would just make sure to get in touch with someone in the enrollment office so you feel certain.

It seems that redshirting isn't that common here though. I know of more kids who skipped K or 1st grade (or were pushed to and refused) than kids who were redshirted in OUSD. 

By the way, if you are confused why California's TK program exists, the answer is that there is no good reason at all. It was supposed to be a temporary thing to deal with a change in birthday cutoffs years ago. Now the state is arbitrarily giving children with fall birthdays and extra year of free schooling. They are the oldest children in their classes who are least likely to need extra help. But I guess you might as well take advantage of it!

Welcome! First off, in OUSD there's not an issue with keeping your child back. BUSD is very strict but we had zero issues with OUSD.

As for schools, this depends on exactly what you are looking for and how far you are willing to drive! East Bay Waldorf school is a trek from Oakland but they have a ton of space (I want to say 80 acres?). They do go indoors but the kids go outside rain or shine as well.

I have to give a shout out for my son's current preschool, MCPC, as well. It's much smaller than what you're describing but the outdoor space is much larger than the indoor area, and since covid the kids are pretty much always outside. I liked my daughter's preschool but my son (and all his friends) are happier at MCPC than I have ever seen kids. It's a co-op so I know this firsthand. The social-emotional learning and conflict resolution are amazing. The anti-bias curriculum with an emphasis on social justice is incredibly well-implemented in just the way 3-5yos can take it in. And it's actually a truly inclusive school when it comes to non-neurotypical kids. My son thinks nothing of it if he has a playdate with a kid on the spectrum. He's unfazed when someone who he formerly knew as a 'he' decides they want to be a 'they' or a 'she.' And he already understands that it's very real for BIPOC to be treated differently from white people — and that it's not okay. Lastly, his social skills outshine those of lots of older kids we know because of the way the teachers patiently, from day one, model how to talk to other people whenever there is a conflict or someone gets hurt.

The teachers and the community are incredible and we even have a part-time Spanish Immersion program. I can't say enough good things about this school. We'll be having a virtual info night sometime in January (date TBD) so if any of that sounds interesting look us up!