Magnolia Forest Preschool Natural Child Life Preserve offers preschool services at Sequim Bay State Park this fall. Submitted photos

Magnolia Forest Preschool Natural Child Life Preserve offers preschool services at Sequim Bay State Park this fall. Submitted photos

New preschool to use outside world as classroom

Magnolia Forest Preschool

What: Preschool for youths of ages 2.5-5

Where: Sequim Bay State Park

Hours/days: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday, starting in September

Website: magnoliaforestpreschool.com

In this classroom, located just east of and along the shores of Hood Canal, branches and leaves and trees themselves become instruments of education.

Based at Kitsap Memorial Park, organizers of Magnolia Forest Preschool have hosted summer camps, preschool and some grade-level classes for youths in the Kitsap County area.

This fall, school co-owners Brandy Boyd and Jenny Stokes look to bring a preschool to Sequim.

Boyd and Stokes will offer preschool services for youths of 2-and-half to 5 years of age, with up to 18 youths being guided by four teachers at one time, based at Sequim Bay State Park, starting in September.

“We believe that children learn best through play,” Stokes said.

The school operates 9 a.m.-1 p.m., with one group of 18 youths meeting Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and a second set on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The preschool is designed to run through June, offering children opportunities to learn and play in the woods at the state park in all weather: sun, rain, snow, warm and cold (barring high winds or other extreme weather).

“Children play, learn boundaries — both physical and social — grow in confidence, and become self-starters,” school representatives note on the school’s website. “Children in this environment learn that there are different ways of solving problems and they develop their critical thinking skills daily.”

Boyd and Stokes said they were already looking at opening some sort of education offerings in the Sequim area prior to the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic. The health crisis only furthered the pair’s interest in providing peninsula families another option for preschool activities.

“(We) really felt the need was great right now to make it happen,” Boyd said.

The school, Boyd said, is a healthy option for families who are wary about putting children in an indoor class right now.

And while the school is based on the Forest Schools Training model from Archimedes Earth Ltd. in the United Kingdom and somewhat rooted in early childhood research by Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky— known for his “zone of proximal development,” or the distance between what a student can do on their own versus what they can do with support of someone more knowledgeable about the activity — Boyd and Stokes have modified their philosophy a bit.

In the Magnolia Forest Preschool model, Boyd said, “children mainly play with the materials they find.”

Teachers value symbolic thinking, she said, and want youths to play with object that are “loose parts” and don’t necessarily have a designed intent.

“(They’ll) pretend a stick is whatever it needs to be when they play,” Boyd said.

“(Students are) always pushing boundaries and testing the limits; what we do is make sure they are free and safe to challenge themselves.”

The multi-age model, Stokes said, fits well, as 5-year-olds often offer support and insight to their younger counterparts. In an example, Stokes said a 4-year-old wanted to climb a tree stump but couldn’t figure out how. A fellow student, nearly 6, gave instructions on how it could be done. The younger student learned a skill, Stokes said, while the elder learns empathy.

“They grow in that way,” she said.

Known in full as Magnolia Forest Preschool Natural Child Life Preserve, the school will have a site director and three staff teachers on site each day. The school has a commercial permit to operate at the state park, meaning they pack in and pack out all equipment each day, and students are to leave tools of learning — branches, leaves and stones — at the site.

The school will use a lesser-used group campsite at Sequim Bay State Park, Boyd said, which has a pavilion and direct access to the beach.

“It’s really perfect for us,” she said.

The school will follow the state-mandate guidelines specific to outdoor preschools, with regulations for class sizes, face coverings, hand-washing and for temperature and health questionnaires for students before they leave their vehicle

Boyd, the school’s co-owner and administrative director, has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Grove City College, with a concentration in math and science. She taught high school science at a private school in Ohio and is earning her master’s degree from the University of Washington in library and information science.

Stokes has a master’s degree in early childhood and curriculum and instruction from Concordia University and a bachelor’s degree in art education (pre K-12) from Baylor University. She began her teaching career 24 years ago and has since taught ages pre-school through college in Arkansas, Texas and Washington state.

Magnolia Forest Preschool has campuses now in Sequim, Kitsap Memorial Park, Sharman Hill in Poulsbo and Edmonds’ Yost Park.

For more about the schools Sequim Bay campus, see magnoliaforestpreschool.com/campuses/sequim-bay.

Brandy Boyd, left, and Jenny Stokes co-own Magnolia Forest Preschool Natural Child Life Preserve.

Brandy Boyd, left, and Jenny Stokes co-own Magnolia Forest Preschool Natural Child Life Preserve.

More in Business

Above: Damon and Stephanie Stamoolis with their son Kosta, 5 1/2, purchased Clear Image Sequim earlier this year and plan to continue the same services while expanding when possible, Damon said. Right: Video restoration services remain a popular service for Damon Stamoolis’ Clear Image Sequim. He said he’s restored thousands of slides and hundreds of pictures in the last month and converted hundreds of VHS tapes and other media tapes into digital formats in higher resolutions. Submitted photos
Clear Image changes owners

Stamoolis family looks to grow business, roots

Business news — Aug. 12, 2020

State offers free business taxes webinar To help reach more business owners… Continue reading

What’s Happening at the Market: All abuzz about Sequim Bee Farm

Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market Open: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1… Continue reading

Business news — Aug. 5, 2020

Sequim broker earns certification Michele Jaeger has earned Pricing Strategy Advisor certification… Continue reading

What’s Happening at the Market: Teamwork, organic vision at Sequim’s Joy Farm

Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market Open: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1… Continue reading

Coffee as community: Essence Coffee Roasters opens, offers ‘something to bond over’

Essence Coffee Roasters Where: 461 W. Washington St. Hours: 7 a.m.-4 p.m.,… Continue reading

Business briefs — July 29, 2020

Discovery Memory Care has new owners based in Texas The Dallas-based MedCore… Continue reading

State employment grows again in June as businesses gradually reopen

Washington state’s economy added 71,000 jobs in June and the state’s preliminary… Continue reading

New preschool to use outside world as classroom

Magnolia Forest Preschool What: Preschool for youths of ages 2.5-5 Where: Sequim… Continue reading

Sequim businesses combine website, aerial footage services

Pritchard Websites-Precision Drone Solutions LLC What: Drone, website services for commercial, nonprofits… Continue reading

What’s Happening at the Market: Life ‘like a recipe’ for Sea Basket Farm owners

Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market Open: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, July 25… Continue reading

What’s Happening at the Market: Find medicinal healing with Sativa Valley Essentials

Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, July 18… Continue reading