Since 2003, Olivenhain Country Preschool has sought to provide a learning-rich environment that establishes a love of learning in the youngest of their students.Their educational philosophy comes from the idea that kids will retain more of what they learn if done through a kinesthetic approach — that is to say, what the kids are able to experience and learn about the world through their own senses, they’ll be able to take with them throughout their lives; especially if it’s done through the school’s monthly curriculum, which includes gardening, cooking and baking, or by getting in touch with nature in the preschool’s idyllic setting.
At one time a residential home in the 1970s, the preschool, on 2-acres of land, still features a full working kitchen where the students help to make their own snacks. The preschool’s office once was an art studio where pottery was fired in a brick kiln, and all of it nestled within the Olivenhain community. Much of the home’s history is still preserved and at times is still being discovered.
During some of their gardening activities, the kids can dig up pieces of old pottery around the property grounds.
What also makes the setting so conducive to learning is that it’s quiet — away from the distractions of bustling city noise — the trees, the lizards and the birds all help to give the students a sense of being in the country.
The arts curriculum can be anything from gardening and cooking to the basic art such as creating bird feeders using the pine cones from the trees that surround the land.
The students are able to retain the knowledge they receive by actively participating in the world around them. Any typical day begins with breakfast, some of which is cooked by the children.
And from there the kids begin their classes based on the lessons for the day.
Each staff instructor interacts with the children, teaching letters and numbers in a way that helps to engage the students’ senses and imaginations.
Learning through the natural curriculum and their senses enables each child to express themselves at each stage of their development.
But what the preschool has become known for is offering the most nurturing, caring, loving environment in this most natural setting that you would ever find, said Kathy Barry, the preschool’s director.
Including Barry, the school prides itself on its seven staff members that are devoted to caring for the children, their individual needs and fostering a love of learning.
All staff is certified and has completed child development courses, is CPR and safety certified and is cleared through the Department of Justice and FBI.
And the parents, too, play a vital part in the school.
Either through volunteering in the classroom or participating on field trips, staff and parents have become a close-knit group.
The preschool welcomes students from infant levels (6 weeks old) to toddlers (18-30 months) to preschool levels (2 to 3 years old) and up to junior kindergartners (3 to 5 years old.)
School hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, visit ocppreschool.com or call (760) 942-5434.
Olivenhain Country Preschool is at 448 Rancho Santa Fe Rd.