Nature’s Way Preschool (NWPS), part of the Austin Nature & Science Center, is a unique nature preschool enrichment program that provides young children with an immersive experience into the wonders of the natural world. Children experience outdoor adventures with fun, hands on nature & science experiences designed to connect them to the natural world while encouraging curiosity & excitement.
Experiences may include climbing, digging, mud and water play, balancing on logs, creek exploration, and nature walks. Activities help to develop coordination, promote self-esteem and increase a sense of wonder. In this nurturing and safe environment, they are encouraged to take initiative, express their ideas and make choices. Our goal is to help them become more aware of the world around them and appreciate it as a precious natural resource worth protection.
Nature's Way Preschool Registration
Visit RecTrac to register for a 2023-2024 class or to get a spot on the waitlist.
- Tour Dates 2023-2024
Friday, October 27, 2023, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Monday, November 6, 2023, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Friday, December 1, 2023, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Monday, December 11, 2023, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Monday, January 8, 2024, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Friday, January 12, 2024, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Tour registration is available on RecTrac.
- Class Offerings
For 3 year olds:
Monday/Wednesday 9 am - 1 pm
Tuesday/Thursday 9 am - 1 pm
Friday 9 am - 1 pm
For 4/5 year olds:
Monday-Thursday 9 am - 1 pm
Monday/Wednesday/Friday 9 am - 1 pm
Tuesday/Thursday 9 am - 1 pm
Friday 9 am - 1 pm
Tuesday/Thursday 2 pm - 5 pm
Tuesday or Thursday 2 pm - 5 pm
The school year runs from mid-September through the end of April.
- Program Goals and Objectives
To teach elementary skills: observing, classifying, measuring, hypothesizing, communicating, collecting data, predicting and experimenting.
To stimulate and reinforce children’s curiosity of nature.
To develop knowledge of and instill appreciation for our natural resources.
To provide opportunities for children to develop social-emotional skills while exploring their natural surroundings.
To provide children with opportunities to make connections with and feel a part of the natural world.
- Our Beliefs
The development of the whole child depends on appropriate physical, mental, and social nourishment supplied by the home, school, and community.
Play, both informal and organized, is significant to intellectual growth.
Learning can happen at any time.
Children have a natural curiosity and desire to learn and make sense of the world around them.
Children need to develop an awareness and appreciation of the world if they are to learn to respect and protect it.
Children have the right to make choices, to express their own ideas, and to take initiative; each child should view themself as a unique and capable individual.
We should challenge children to question and to seek answers.
We must respect each child’s individuality and unique qualities.
Children need a warm, safe, and enriching learning environment.
Children should feel empowered to develop self-reliance and independence.
By loving and respecting children, they come to love and respect themselves.
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the student-to-teacher ratio?
The ratio is never larger than 8:1.
How old does my child need to be to attend?
Children 3-5 years. All students must be potty-trained in order to participate.
Where are the classes located?
Classes are held at the Ashford-McGill Trailhouse building at the Austin Nature & Science Center.
How long is the wait for a space?
The wait for each class can vary from year to year depending on ages of children interested and class demand. Each class will have its own waitlist. Waitlists do not carry over from year to year.
How do I learn about registration?
Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Tour participants will receive an email notification informing them of the registration date and time for the upcoming school year.
Can I register my child for more than one class?
Participants can only register for one class section. Each class section is designated with a unique Activity Number in the registration system.
How do I know if I am an Austin resident?
Austin residents zip codes: 73301 73344 78701 78702 78703 78704 78705 78708 78709 78710 78711 78712 78713 78714 78715 78716 78717 78718 78719 78720 78721 78722 78723 78724 78725 78726 78727 78728 78729 78730 78731 78732 78733 78734 78735 78736 78737 78738 78739 78741 78742 78744 78745 78746 78747 78748 78749 78750 78751 78752 78753 78754 78755 78756 78757 78758 78759 78760 78761 78762 78763 78764 78765 78766 78767 78768 78769 78772 78773 78774 78778 78779 78780 78781 78783 78785 78789 78799
How do I know if I qualify for financial aid?
Visit http://austintexas.gov/pardfinaid for more information.
For additional information, please contact the front desk at
ANSCprograms@austintexas.gov or at (512) 974-3888.
- Curriculum Overview
Nature’s Way Preschool students take part in an active program designed to help them explore and fully experience their own environment. Instructors emphasize hands-on discovery and allow the children to experiment with a variety of ideas and materials at their own pace. Activities are provided in science, art, dramatics, music, body movement, and outdoor exploration. Daily activities are geared toward helping children understand themselves and their world according to their own needs, interests, and abilities.
Our curriculum begins by asking the question, ‘Who in the world am I?’ and encourages the children to become more aware of their feelings, personal care, and body composition. This section also examines other animals that share our world and the similarities and differences between us.
Once the children have a greater understanding of themselves and other living creatures, the curriculum raises the question, ‘Where in the world do we all fit in?’ The children are given opportunities to explore their own environment as well as those of the animals they have studied. They will spend time observing seasonal changes, learning how animals and people work together, and examining why harvesting food is important to us and our fellow creatures alike.
Upon returning from winter break, the preschoolers will spend some time considering, ‘What in the world is our Earth made of?’ Students will answer this question as they learn ways to take care of the Earth, explore different biomes, and dig into and investigate the land and water. They will learn more about dinosaurs and creatures who lived on our planet before us and consider what is under our feet and in the sky above our heads.
The final component of the curriculum challenges the preschoolers to use all their previously gained knowledge to explore answers to the question, “How in the world can I connect the dots?” At this point, the children will be equipped with the confidence and the curiosity to build a garden from seed, discover the cycles of nature, understand how other animals communicate, and even create their own natural art.
The overall structure of the curriculum creates logical progression through the topics. This makes the subjects more meaningful to the children, while also enabling them to use prior learning as building blocks to acquire new knowledge.
- Tuition Information 2023-2024
“My son had two great years at Nature's Way and we will always cherish those memories. It was truly a place of joy for him- the way he would run up the ramp with excitement on the way to school and leave with huge smiles… I think I will always look back on these last two years with the sweetest memories of school for him… I wish it didn't have to end!”
“The teachers- I can’t express enough how the hands-on teaching has impacted them. These aren’t just teachers who like nature but have hands on experience, stories and are deeply passionate about what they are doing and know nature. The school environment itself has been an incredibly special place to learn and grow. Such beautiful memories”.
“My daughter enjoyed very much attending class and, generally, I had to force her to leave every time I went to pick her up at the end of the day. You all create such a loving, accepting and caring environment. For our family, this was our first experience going to school ever, and I couldn’t have been better!”
“He’s only been with y’all for about a month, but he’s learned so much about the outdoors. Every time we go on a hike, I learn something new from him (e.g stinging nettles). It’s been fun to watch him grow more confident in his outdoor environment.”
“Staff are highly attuned to children's individual needs. Emergent curriculum, an overall warm, caring, child-centered learning environment.”
“NWPS gave us all an increased awareness and curiosity of nature. We loved the community and calmness that the teachers at NWPS cultivated. When we were new to Austin we felt at home immediately at NWPS, everyone at the school has been welcoming and understanding. I could go on and on, we love NWPS and will always remember it as one of our favorite things about living in Austin!”
“I love that they get the kids outside regardless of weather and teach them to explore and get dirty and really just be free! It's so special!”
“I love the space, the teachers, the independence and way teachers encourage and allow space and time for kids to think creatively alone and together to solve problems and interact with each other as tiny humans.”
“The staff lets kids lead their learning process and their encounters with nature. Lots of free play and useful information about nature. I also love that the teachers were always very understanding and accepting of the kids.”
“NWPS is small, almost like a family. Teachers are so caring, and so open and available to talk with parents, and there is great focus on social emotional skills. Kids obviously get tons of outdoor time. They get stronger (mine can hike so far now) and confident in the outdoors. They get lots of time to be creative, with very few traditional toys and school tools. And, of course, they develop a deeper appreciation for nature”
“I love the open-ended curriculum, it allows the kids room to be creative and explore. I can’t believe how much my daughter knows about the nature around her now, she teaches me new things all the time. This school does an amazing job of teaching the kids social emotional skills that foster wonderful relationships between them, their teacher, and school friends. She has loved this school so much and is sad to leave it for kindergarten next year.”
“I love the teachers’ kindness and love of the children, age-appropriate, play-based curriculum, lots of time outdoors, rules that make sense for the kids, ease of communicating with teachers.”
“I love the teachers’ approach to conflict with children, gentle redirection and amazing resolution assistance when helping kids work through conflict.”
“I love that Nature's Way Preschool follows an experiential and environmental pedagogy. I also love the incorporation of creative mediums & loose parts in daily play outside. The teachers are super knowledgeable and friendly.”
“The staff is generous in their attention to the child and the family. Also their creative incorporation of nature, art, social-emotional skills is very appreciated. The physical environment is unrivaled.”
“My daughter has gained a sense of independence and freedom and a love for the outdoors.”
“Every day our kiddo was happy. Dirty and so very happy. Squeals of joy are what I heard on my way up the ramp to pick up. She loved discovering and making new friends and hikes and animal visitors and all the teachers that made her feel safe and successful, strong and part of a lovely community.”
“We love going on hikes together now, and can do quite long and involved hikes!”
“We enjoyed the curriculum and the conversations it resulted in at home. Teachers were all very kind and genuinely interested and knowledgeable about nature, animals, insects.
“We take weekend walks on the green belt. Our son now leads us and explains what to look for, what to watch out for, how to be prepared, etc. We’ve loved seeing his confidence improve.”
“My twins were given opportunities to develop strengths/weaknesses individually and feel loved by various caregivers. We loved the community built with family hikes and have made lifelong friends from the program. My children are sublimely happy every day to attend.”
“Nature’s Way is run the way MORE preschools should be run. More children need to be outside like they are at NWPS - the academics will come later.”
- Photo Gallery
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