Nature Center Preschool

Nature plays a vital role in the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of young children.

Denison Pequotsepos Nature Preschool’s early childhood education-through-nature programs at Coogan Farm align closely with our mission: to inspire an understanding of the natural world and ourselves as part of it, past, present and future.

Childhood experiences in nature help stimulate curiosity and interest in the world. We believe time spent in nature can foster a strong personal environmental ethic, leading the path to a sustainable future for all.

Curriculum & Goals


Our outdoor and indoor classrooms provide our students with daily opportunities for social, intellectual, physical and emotional growth, through child-led nature play and our science- based curriculum. Coogan Farm’s sanctuary of woods, trails, streams, boulders, gardens and meadows serves as the outdoor classroom for our Nature Preschool, with indoor spaces at Avery Farmhouse. Our preschool children spend time outdoors every day, where they can fully engage all their senses in a safe and nurturing environment.

Our curriculum is a comprehensive blend of environmental education and play-based standards, and is deeply rooted in the principles of the Montessori method. We use nature as our guide to inspire curiosity and learning in science, art, music, math, literacy and dramatic play. Each nature-based theme in our curriculum follows the seasons and is paired with related academic concepts. Children have time each day for unstructured play in nature, balanced with child-led activities that prepare them for kindergarten. 


Nature Center Preschool provides an integrated environmental education curriculum for mixed-age groups of children from three to five years old.


Children may attend a two-day program on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a three-day program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or a full, five-day program, Monday through Friday.

Our Daily Schedule

8:30 am: Welcome!

Children are greeted outside on the playground or in the classroom at Avery Farmhouse. The day begins with free time to explore and engage in activities or games, connect with friends and animals, or read books while making a gentle transition from home to school.

 9:30 am: Daily Hike & Exploration

Travel the trails, explore various habitats and immerse in our outdoor classroom at Coogan Farm or at DPNC’s woodland campus. Visit a stream, pond, meadow or Nature Center exhibits.  Climb, jump, build, pretend, observe, listen and play. 

10:30 am: Snack Time

Healthy snacks are provided and are served indoors or out, depending on the weather. 

11:00 am: Small Group & Bathroom Time

Children engage in activities connected with a nature theme and build on preschool skills.

11:30 am: Circle Time

The whole group gathers for a predictable routine that includes the nature theme of the week. They participate in songs, finger plays, stories and experience frequent live animal encounters with the Nature Center’s resident animals. 

12:00 to 12:30 pm:  Pick-Up Time

Children play in outdoor play areas near the preschool while parents arrive for pick up.  

How to Apply

Applications for new students are accepted at any time during the year, and are maintained on a waitlist for the year of projected entry. New student enrollment takes place in March, after current families have made their commitment for the following school year.  New student enrollment is completed on a first-come, first serve basis, beginning with the waitlist of applicants.

Children must be three years of age by December 31 to be admitted to the program for September. They must be toilet-trained and self-sufficient. A physical within one year is required, documented by a corresponding health record from the child’s physician.

Preschool is a benefit of membership; a current DPNC family membership is required at the time of enrollment.

Tuition & Fees

Tuesday/Thursday                            $360/month ($3240/year)

Monday/Wednesday/Friday        $530/month ($4770/year)

Monday through Friday                  $880/month ($7920/year)

Upon notification of placement in the program, a $300 non-refundable enrollment fee is required to hold your child’s spot. Tuition is divided into nine equal payments due on the 15th of each month from August through March. Payment in full is accepted at any time.


Current research continues to show the benefits of time spent in nature for children and adults alike. Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center offers a limited number of partial scholarships to the Nature Center Preschool, based on need and availability of funding. Scholarships up to 50% of the annual tuition may be awarded. To learn more, please contact Preschool Director Suzanne Burns [email protected].

ABCs of Preschool Enrollment

  1. Fill out and return a preschool application form.
  2. Enrollment begins in March. We will notify you as space becomes available.
  3. When you receive a placement, pay a non-refundable $300 enrollment fee. The preschool program is a benefit for members, if your membership is not active, please join or renew at this time.
  4. Return your signed tuition contract and enrollment paperwork before school starts.
  5. Show up at school ready for fun!

For Inquiries

Please contact Preschool Director Suzanne Burns with any questions regarding preschool enrollment at [email protected] or 860-980-3705. All inquiries, applications and answers will remain confidential.