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By Lexington Howe
Staff Writer 

Blue Lotus Nature School is a world of new discoveries for children

 

Last updated 9/20/2020 at 9:28pm

Horses, chickens, rabbits and more – these are just some of the fun, outdoor aspects to experience at Fallbrook's Blue Lotus Nature School.

Owner and founder Stacie Stricker first experienced an outdoor preschool for herself when her daughter attended one in Santa Barbara 10 years ago.

At the time, people had thought she had lost her mind but now, the idea is more widely accepted, according to Stricker.

"I found that outdoor schooling fostered a long-term connection with nature," Stricker said. "We fell in love with the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy. Reggio focuses on learning through the experiences children have and the environment they are in."

They found their mini 2.5-acre ranch home in Fallbrook, and Stricker knew she had to have it. They have five horses, hens, baby chicks, rabbits and a barn cat to keep the mice away.

"The kids spend the half-day session always outside, with the class meeting in our barnyard," Stricker said.

Stricker said that it's like taking the children to the zoo.

"They walk around; they see the bunnies. They get to see the baby chicks; they get to pet the ponies," Stricker said. "They can walk up and pet (the ponies. They're in box stalls) and they help feed and everything."

Stricker said the idea of an outdoor preschool experience is becoming more mainstream now, especially due to COVID-19.

"Their kids are breathing fresh air; they're outside," Stricker said.

They also encourage social distancing and sanitation procedures.

"Once the numbers of the county started going down and they started opening everything up around the county, I thought I'm ready to go; let's go ahead," Stricker said.

The Blue Lotus Nature School is currently half full, and they just reopened their doors a few weeks ago.

"We opened the summer of 2019. So, summer 2020 would have been our second summer but we were closed because of COVID-19," Stricker said.

While they are a licensed day care and were not mandated to close, she felt it was the safest option. The feedback so far has been great, according to Stricker.

"They're learning their letters. They're painting. They're doing it with natural materials," Stricker said. "They go for hikes around the property and they pick up sticks, pine needles and stones and whatever, and they come back in and instead of writing the No. 2 to begin, they're forming it with pine needles. Then they work up to writing it."

Stricker said parents ask if their children will get the same fundamentals here as they would within a traditional classroom, and her answer is yes.

"They're still learning all of that exact same stuff, that kindergarten readiness that they would learn in a traditional classroom environment," Stricker said.

Their preschool program currently runs Tuesday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with monthly tuition including a snack and lunch. They give tours Tuesday to Sunday by appointment; they also offer pony parties in the afternoons and on weekends, where groups of up to 12 children can ride.

For more information on Blue Lotus Nature School and what they have to offer, visit http://www.bluelotusnatureschool.com.

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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