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Program Basics

We are a fully-licensed, 4-STAR program that offers nature-based learning for children ages 3-5.

We spend time outdoors each day! Our center is the Balch Nature School indoor/outdoor space at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium in St. Johnsbury. We'll plan a few local field trips to learn more about the fields, forests, wetlands and farms in our area.

We offer a distinctive preschool program experience in that children have daily interactions with nature and witness seasonal changes.  Children work with natural materials such as sand, water, clay, sticks, seeds, and plants, and have access to the wealth of resources the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium offers through its facility and educational programs.

Students must be fully toilet trained for this drop-off program. Some highlights of our approach:

  • We foster close relationships. The maximum class size is 12 students, so every student gets guidance and attention from our teachers.
  • Flexible enrollment options allow you to select the times and dates that meet your schedule and align with your child's developmental pace. We offer 2, 3, 4, or 5 days/week enrollment options. New in 2017: an after-care program will allow children to stay in the Balch Nature School for an extended day.
  • Nature-based learning is our key. Our program uses thematic units that relate to the seasons and presents age-appropriate science concepts.  The Vermont Early Learning Standards (VELS) are integrated into the curriculum so children also learn important early literacy and math skills.               

News from Balch

May began as a picture perfect month and proceeded to be one of the coldest May’s on record (or at least the first few weeks).  But it has been a warm and busy one for Balch preschoolers.  We began with mass producing Mother’s day gifts and cards, experimenting with an egg hatch, monitoring the new bee hive (and progress towards a bee tree), enjoyed our last planetarium visits and will end working on the butterfly house (we will help move the mulch in).  We spent our family day out in the woods on top of a hill in East Lyndon (Thank you everyone for making this extra special.  The sunshine and breezes were wonderful but without the children and families it would have been just another day.)

Our latest projects have included planting in our gardens and preparing the set/props for our newest museum exhibit “Bees, Butterfly’s, our Pollinators”.  We painted papers by mono-printing, bubble wrap printing, liquid water colors on filter paper and acrylics on filter papers.  These papers have become flowers, butterfly’s and back grounds for our display cases on the main floor at the museum (the cases currently hold our Under the Ocean Sea Creatures).  We will be taking out the underwater display before school ends so the creatures can return home to their makers.  The only thing missing from our next display are some bees and bee hives, so here check out the note below on our bee making challenge! 

As we come into our end of the year, we will need to keep our children who will be transitioning to new programs in mind….emotions and behaviors can be unpredictable.  We will be trying our best to keep our routines consistent and predictable but allowing them to process the changes.   Ms.  Ashleigh and I have been so privileged to have had the opportunity to work with each and every one this year.     As some have already heard, Ms. Ashleigh will also be moving on to invest more in her specialty of Autism.  She will be an incredible resource for our greater community.  We want to thank her from the bottom of our hearts for sharing the last two years with us.  I especially will be ever grateful for having the opportunity to teach, work with and get to know her.  Thank you Ashleigh.

June themes: bees, butterflies and plants

Ms. Carolyn & Ms. Ashleigh   

Details for fall enrollment applications: Please return your applications as soon as possible, let me know what days I should be penciling you in for. If you need an application, let me know, we have found a couple of errors on the financial page, I have redone this & put the updated on in the parent information to the right of door as you come in.

Application and tuition information is available here.