Saplings Outdoor Enrichment Program Mission and Values
The mission of Saplings is to create a culture of child-citizens who are connected to the Earth. We facilitate a deeper connection with local ecology through place based learning, while physically empowering children to interact with their environment. Our goal is to develop and foster awareness and compassion for all living things and the world we live in.
Our program is rooted in humanitarian principles that honor the evolving development of the young child. We ask our Saplings to explore the world around them, allowing them to take reasonable risks, while respecting their innate ability to work and learn. Our directors support children’s inquiry and imagination through facilitation of investigation and experience. We believe that every child is connected to the earth beneath their feet, and we strive to strengthen and prolong that vital connection.
Saplings: TK-5th Grade (Laureate Lane location)
We meet Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. We structure our program to have a natural rhythm that is flexible enough to incorporate and support the children’s Inquiry of the Day.
9:00- 9:15 Goodbye parents, activity of the day (stone soup, baking, painting/coloring/craft, free play).
9:15-10:45 Inquiry of the Day (IoD) from teacher to facilitate play (example; build shelter), check in with students for ideas, settle into IoD.
10:45- 11;15 snack
11:15- 12:30 free play/continuation of the IoD
12:30-1:00 Lunch, goodbye circle
Saplings Adventure Kids: TK-5th Grade (meets at various trails in greater SLO area)
We meet Wednesday and Friday from 10-2
10:00 am Meet at trailhead and begin hike
11;30 Resume hike
This program is designed to build strength and resilience in the younger child. We take plenty of breaks for exploration and rest, while also challenging our limits as outdoor adventurers.
“In a culture in which "connection" usually refers to the strength of the cell phone signal, quieting the mind - even just sitting alone in the backyard, much less in the forest - can be a difficult rite of passage.”
~ Jon Young, What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World
Saplings offers two programs; Saplings, and Saplings Adventure Kids. Saplings has a one or two day option for your child. Each enrollment option includes daily meal preparation, arts and crafts, outdoor exploration, and cultural skill building. Feel free to inquire about alternative enrollment options. SAK is held twice a week at various locations around the county. Please see our Programs page for specifics.
the world is mud-luscious, and puddle-wonderful"
At Saplings we offer a two day a week TK- 4th Grade program on our beautiful 10 acres at the base of Bishop's peak, and a two day independent program; Saplings Adventure Kids for 5-12 year olds, meeting at varying locations in SLO County.
Please see our ABOUT page for tuition pricing.
We strive to provide a broad base of experience for our Saplings learners. Our teachers collaborate to bring their individual skill sets to the children in a creative and open ended way. Staff will meet once a week to discuss the children, and their individual and group programming needs.
Julia Valentine, Lead Teacher/Director
Julia is a certified Waldorf Early Childhood educator, outdoor education and Permaculture teacher, with over a decade and a half of experience. Julia is a mother of three sons, an avid gardener and cook, and a dedicated social and environmental justice activist. Julia has been leading student inquiry for the last 18 years in a variety of settings, including the classroom and garden. For the last 6 years, she has been the lead teacher, program manager, and curriculum developer for two schoolwide gardening and native habitat programs in Sonoma County. Julia believes in the wisdom each child innately holds, and their primary connection to Mother Earth. She enjoys the collaborative nature of place based learning, and strives to connect students to the world around them through work and play. Julia’s extensive background in garden and native habitat education strengthens her ability to lead children safely and respectfully through their outdoor educational experience.
"Helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful"