Resources & Information

Y-Koda Nature School classes spend at least 50% of the school day outdoors hiking, learning, playing, and growing in all seasons and weather. Our philosophy is deeply rooted in play- and inquiry-based learning. From the beginning of the school year to the end, families can expect their little ones to be more inquisitive, resilient, confident, and tuned in to the subtleties of the natural world around them.

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boy in tree trunk

What is Nature Preschool?

Dr. Patti Bailie, a pioneer of research on the nature preschool movement who currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Maine at Farmington, and Ken Finch, Founding Director of Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood, offer three main criteria to distinguish nature preschools:

  1. Nature is the central organizing concept of the program. That is, nature is the integrating thread that intentionally ties together the preschool’s philosophy, methodologies, class-room design, outdoor spaces, and public identity.
  2. A nature preschool’s program is based on high-quality practices of both early childhood education (developmentally appropriate practices) and environmental education (the North American Association for Environmental Education’s “Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education” and principles of interpretation), requiring its teaching staff to have skills and experience in both early childhood education and environmental education.
  3. A nature preschool program uses the natural world to support dual goals that address both child development and conservation values. These include the development of the world of the child (in all domains – cognitive, physical, social, emotional, aesthetic, and spiritual) and the development of an ecological identity or environmental ethic.

- Natural Start Alliance

Learn more about nature-based education here:


Is YKNS the right fit for your child?

Children must be four years of age before September 1st and must be potty trained. Y-Koda Nature School is affiliated with the Sheboygan Area School District which makes it tuition free.

Since our school day is predominantly held outdoors, children must be able to remain with the group while adventuring outside. If your child prefers a formal routine, please keep in mind that while we follow a daily schedule, our school day flows with the changes we see in nature as well as with student interest.


When and how do you enroll your child at Y-Koda Nature School?

Enrollment begins on December 1st of every year. You will need to fill out the School Choice form on the SASD website:

If you are not enrolling from within the SASD, you will have to enroll during open enrollment starting February 1st.


Will my child go outdoors every day? Even on rainy or cold days?

Depending on the conditions, we may be out longer or shorter, but unless the weather is dangerous to our safety, we will be outside each and every day. Proper outdoor clothing is imperative to a safe and successful school year. Please check out our list of gear recommendations here.

*Please remember to label all outdoor gear items with your child’s name!*


Can I book a school tour?

Yes! Contact Sarah Dezwarte at to arrange a date and time to check out our facility and grounds.


The rest of the school district is off or it’s a snow day. Will nature school meet?

Our calendar differs slightly from the Sheboygan Area School Districts’ (SASD), so when in doubt, please refer to the Y-Koda Nature School calendar. Generally the Nature-Based Day Care is open on non-school days.

If SASD calls a snow day, our school will follow suit. Please check on the SASD website or Facebook page to stay up to date on school closures due to snow. The NBDC will be open on snow days unless the Sheboygan YMCA closes. Then it’s time to hunker down and stay home!