Indian Creek Nature Center opening a nature-based preschool

A new preschool in eastern Iowa will follow a non-traditional learning model.
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 3:43 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Next month Creekside Forest nature-based preschool will open up to 28 students 3 to 4 years old.

“About a year ago, we determined that we needed to expand our mission and serve our community in a new way,” said Kelli Kennon-Lane, Indian Creek Director of Education.

Since the center announced the new preschool they received an overwhelming response from parents.

“Our waitlist has hundreds of children on it up until 2024,” said Kelli Kennon-Lane.

Nicole Upchurch has been selected as the lead preschool teacher.

“It’s a mission that I believe in, deeply nature-based education, I believe it serves any child,” said Upchurch. “We are going to make sure to explore our classrooms. And when I say classrooms, I’m not talking about four walls, I’m talking about this beautiful property,”.

The preschool classes will primarily be held outdoors in nature, no matter the season.

“There’s no bad weather there’s only bad clothing options,” said Upchurch. " It’s important that we allow children to take risks that are healthy risks,”.

Britt Vincent is sending her two daughters, Fiona and Everette, to Creekside in September.

“Our kids love being outside. And it’s really important to me to just let kids be little. And I feel like there’s no better place to start their education journey than somewhere where they can be outside and play,” said Vincent.

Even though her daughters may come home a little dirty.

“I want them to come home dirty knowing that they were really playing hard and having so much fun all day,” said Vincent.

With extra time being spent outside at Creekside Forest Preschool extra supplies for students are going to be needed. The school will be hosting a supply collection all year to make sure they are always meeting the needs of their young students.

Kennon-Lane says while they currently have a waitlist to attend the school they will be keeping applications open.

“We’re really excited to see what the next couple of years looks like,” said Kennon-Lane.

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