Emerald Heart girls and boys range from 2.9 to 5 years of age. Some have experienced daycare or preschool while others are new to being away from their parents. They are potty trained. Emerald Heart kids enjoy being outdoors, which is a good thing, because our classroom is the forest!
Emerald Heart's class size is minimum of 7 and maximum of 8. This means our two teachers can give plenty of individualized attention and care for each and every child.
COVID-19 & HEALTH SAFETY
We are a fully outdoor program. We believe this to be a safer alternative to indoor settings. We are passionate about the benefits of outdoor education and are excited about being a growing Forest School program.
Given that Emerald Heart is designed for outdoor learning, we have adjusted to new CV-19 safety protocols with ease.
We have designed our safety protocols based on Marin County's guidelines for childcare. The children's health and safety are our top priority.
Feel free to speak with our director and lead teacher, Taira, if you have specific concerns. We welcome your questions. We know these are uncertain times and extra special care is needed.
OUR PROGRAM DATES & TIMES
Autumn semester: September 14 - December 16, 2020
Winter/Spring semester: January 11 - May 26, 2021
We are a three day a week program, meeting Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
From 9am - 2pm.
Fall 2021: We will continue as a Monday - Wednesday program. Fall semester will begin on September 13 and end on December 15, 2021. Winter/spring semester will begin on January 10 and end on May 25, 2022.
Our new hours will be 9am - 1:30pm. We have discovered that a 4.5 hour program--that is fully outdoors--is better suited for preschool age children.
Our homebase is Deer Park in Fairfax, CA. Deer Park is a 54-acre park, which is home to redwood groves, buckeye-sprinkled grassland and mixed woods of coast live oak, madrone, and California bay. Small waterfalls and seasonal creeks flow in winter and spring. Our forest friends include scrub-jay, gray squirrel, gray fox and black-tailed deer among others.
Deer Park is a rich and varied place to inspire a love of nature and to foster earth stewardship.
Once children and teachers get acclimated to each other (or if fire danger closes the Marin watershed), we may adventure to an alternative location or two from time to time.
*includes supplies fee
Commitment is for one semester
APPLICATION FEE $129
Non-refundable administration fee required at time of application. Those families continuing from autumn to winter/spring semesters, do not have to re-apply.
Click HERE for Application Process.
WHAT ABOUT RAIN?
A common question is "What happens when it rains?" The short answer: We play outdoors in all types of weather. We do put up a tarp and a pop-up tent. The most important thing, however, is how the children are dressed. Parents receive a handbook, which includes detailed instructions on gear.
Taira Restar, our lead teacher, has worked with children and adults as a place-based educator for over 20 years. She is a somatic movement therapist and a certified Breakthrough Parenting instructor.
Qian Wang is our assistant teacher. Qian graduated in Art Therapy from College of New Rochelle in New York. She is passionate about being of service and is honored to support Emerald Heart children.
For more information, read below.
Taira Restar, RSMT
Taira Restar, our lead teacher, lives in the forest, where she is in love with the place itself.
For over 20 years, Taira has combined place-based education with Expressive Arts education. Her workshops have taken her around the world and back to her own beloved forests and beaches in West Marin. Taira has had the honor and delight of co-teaching with eco-philosopher David Abram (Spell of the Sensuous, Becoming Animal) and with Expressive Arts pioneer Anna Halprin (Returning Home), both of whom have deeply impacted Taira's embodied understanding of wild nature.
Taira has a masters degree in movement education and is a registered somatic movement therapist. She has been in the field of movement-based Expressive Arts Therapy and Education for 35 years. Her FamiliesDancing! workshops were the first movement-based family offerings at San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art, where she collaborated with place-based dancer Terre Parker (Earthdance) and artist Fritz Haeg as part of his Animal Estates exhibit.
As a young mother, Taira was introduced to Waldorf education. It was an easy fit! She and her family were already living a lifestyle that was in harmony with Waldorf values, including respect of and love for Nature. With the help of mentors, she opened Playgarden, a Waldorf-styled preschool program which flourished for many years.
In summer 2019, Taira was invited by a group of parents to open Emerald Heart on the Heartwood Charter School campus. Soon Mercedes MacCallister joined in. Emerald Heart was born! Taira is grateful to Mercedes for all that she contributed to help Emerald Heart during the 2019/2020 school year.
In summer 2020, Emerald Heart shifted and reshaped. Qian Wang joined as our new assistant teacher. Taira and Qian co-created a Vision for Emerald Heart to grow even stronger and more beautiful. They believe that, now more than ever, educators and parents must live and inspire deep love for our beloved earth through place-based experiences. The future of earth is in the tiny hands of our children.
Taira and Qian met in 2013 when Qian traveled from New York to California to take a place-based workshop that Taira was facilitating. Since then Qian graduated in Art Therapy from College of Rochelle in New York. She worked in the infant/toddler program at Apple Montessori in Hoboken, New Jersey. Qian is an outdoor enthusiast, who loves camping and hiking. More than that, she is deeply committed to being of service to our living Earth. Qian shares her love of earth and her quiet wisdom with Emerald Heart children, who love her!