Our Philosophy

At Emerald Heart, we honor and nourish relationships to self, others and earth. We value the unique inner landscape of each child and the dynamic landscape of our forest home. We do this through daily focus on social and emotional development, physical development, creative thinking and expression and nature connection. We believe that our direct experiences in, with and as nature are beneficial to us and to our world--now and in the future.

Social and Emotional Development

We nourish caring relationships among children, teachers, parents and Nature. We emphasize social skills, including respectful communication. 


Children learn to listen while others are speaking and learn to take turns. 

Children develop Deep Listening skills, so they can sense into wild nature and their own true nature.


We honor that all emotions are natural and that certain behaviors are more skillful than others. With respect, we encourage children to notice the impact of aggressive or hurtful behavior. We practice peaceful conflict resolution.


Children learn that “It’s okay to feel angry, but it’s not okay to hit.” and “It’s okay to feel frustrated, but it’s not okay to grab a stick or toy away from a friend.” If carefully and skillfully modeled and facilitated, the social skills that are focused on during preschool years can benefit children and their relationships for a lifetime.


We value self-worth and know that confidence grows as children learn to take care of themselves, learn to help others and learn to take risks. 


Children learn to wash their hands before eating and how to keep personal belongings in their backpack. Children are encouraged to help each other and to contribute to group tasks, such as tidying up after playtime. Children grow in confidence as they try new things, fail, succeed and learn.


We know that children learn through imitation. Teachers role model care and compassion as well as skillful communication. 

Physical Development

We prioritize physical health and well-being. 


Children start their day with a morning ritual of washing hands. And handwash throughout our day together.


Children take daily walks, engage in creative movement and play outdoors—climbing, balancing, running and jumping. They practice their fine motor skills through art and craft making, building and collecting.


We drink plenty of water. And encourage parents to pack healthy lunches and snacks. 

Each afternoon, children wind down and rest. Closing eyes as they listen to a story.

Nature Connection 

We honor Nature and her seasons through stories, songs, creative movement and art making.


During Circle Time, children sing, move and recite verses that joyfully express the seasons and the richness of the natural world. 


We explore, meander, play and rest in, with and as Nature. 


Children observe, discover and experiment in and with the forest. They learn how to listen deeply.


We respect our bodies and open our senses.


Children are encouraged to tune into and trust their own body’s wisdom.


We nourish caring relationships between children and other-than-human neighbors.


Children befriend each other as well as trees, insects, plants and animals and ‘document’ these friendships through a year-long Nature Journal.

Creative Thinking and Expression

We value creativity and know that creative thinking now leads to problem solving and innovation later in life. We respect and value each child’s unique gifts and encourage these gifts to be creative resources for all of us.


Children are encouraged to express their unique ideas through conversation and word play, storytelling, imaginative play and art making.

In addition to child-led creativity play, teachers offer creative opportunities--some are planned in advance, such as nature-based craft projects and inspirational books, and some are a response in the moment to emergent interests and ideas.