Written by: Boise Parks and Recreation
What if there was a preschool that's fully outdoors year-round – rain, snow, sunshine (and everything in between!) – where the children are outside and enjoying the natural environment all around them? Just picture it: a crisp fall morning, your preschooler is bundled in warm fleece layers, maybe covered in a rainsuit, and giddy with excitement to play in the foothills or in the garden. This place exists – and it’s called Boise Outdoor Preschool!
Boise Parks and Recreation employs a team of environmental educators to lead the Boise Outdoor Preschool program at the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center (FLC) in the North End and at Boise Urban Garden School (BUGS) in West Boise. Our educators provide these exact experiences year-round for children ages 3.5 to 5 years old. Each morning at the Foothills Learning Center, a quarter mile stretch of dirt road becomes busy with parents dropping their children off at school. At BUGS, the children run through Comba Park and into an urban garden filled with plants and produce for them to discover.
Outdoor learning spaces provide many opportunities for kids to independently explore nature, whether it’s on a larger scale exploring sagebrush ecosystems, or on a smaller scale in an urban park and garden. Children are immersed in the natural world while gaining social-emotional skills through place-based learning, exploration, and play.
Boise Outdoor Preschool is a place where children learn through the environment while incorporating imaginative play into their everyday routine. Instructors create lesson plans that bring in the natural world as a teaching tool. At the FLC, kids walk through pathways heavy with pollinator flowers and learn about the life cycles of the plants and animals who call the foothills home. At BUGS, the garden is a classroom and preschoolers learn how to take what they grow and make delicious and nutritious snacks. Boise Parks and Recreation is dedicated to this work, and to keeping this program affordable and approachable for all families.
Every day our participants are reminded that these foothills and park spaces aren’t just recreation spaces for grownups, but they are also safe and encouraging havens where children can do their work of playing, learning to share, having a second chance at a challenging task (bowling with pumpkins anyone?) all while growing an appreciation for the natural world.
Boise Urban Garden School has space in the three-day morning Boise Outdoor Preschool session running on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. -12 p.m. Teachers aim to engage children in understanding where their food comes from, enjoying new flavors, and learning how to create healthy meals and snacks for themselves.
Meanwhile, educators at the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center Boise Outdoor Preschool location aim to connect children with the natural environment of the Boise Foothills and to develop an appreciation for conservation of wild spaces, flora, and fauna. The FLC has space in each of their three Boise Outdoor Preschool sessions:
Monday through Friday morning, five days a week – 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings – 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons – 1 to 4 p.m.
Boise Parks and Recreation aims to keep prices affordable for families and costs per session vary by number of days of care per month. A robust scholarship program is also available. To learn more about our learning and educating ethic, our mission and values, as well as to schedule a tour at the separate locations, please visit the City of Boise’s website.
Boise Outdoor Preschool and Boise Parks and Recreation Details:
Outdoor Preschool Locations:
Contact the Foothills Learning Center at (208) 608-7810 or email FLC-Parks@cityofboise.org.
Contact Boise Urban Garden School at (208) 972-8630 or email BUGS@cityofboise.org.
You can also email Boise Parks and Recreation at email@example.com or call (208) 608-7600 ext. 5 for assistance and additional program information.
Boise Outdoor Preschool at BUGS Details:
Held weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon from September through May. Pricing for this program is approximately $259 per student per month.
Boise Outdoor Preschool at the FLC Details:
Held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m. from September through May. Full week sessions are also offered Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon from September through May. Pricing for the three day sessions is approximately $259 per student, pricing for the five day sessions is approximately $431 per student, per month.