Welcome to Oak Hill Nursery School and Kindergarten
COVID19 Update: Oak Hill is excited to have transitioned to an ALL outdoor program in response to the current health considerations. Our groups attend separately in cohorts with no cross over between the groups. Kindergarten and nursery school programs will resume starting September 8th. Strict family social contracts and meticulous attention to our students' health status will serve to keep staff and students as safe and healthy as possible.
Nurturing children. Supporting families. Building community.
Oak Hill Nursery School is a private free play based, nature centered nursery school and kindergarten that sits on 100 beautiful acres in rural upstate New York. Located just outside of Cooperstown since 2006, we cater to local families with a two, a three and a five day nursery school program for preschool children aged (nearly) 3-5 yrs old, and a four day afternoon kindergarten program for eligible 5 and 6 yr olds.
Together at Oak Hill the children cook, bake, paint, sing, hike and play both inside and out. Imagination blossoms within the context of the seasonal changes as play leads the children through the year together with an ever deepening appreciation and respect for the world around them.
With our nature driven philosophy, children at Oak Hill experience the seasonal changes both in the classroom through poems, circle games and songs, and first hand during our extensive time outdoors.
Whilst hiking and climbing, practicing yoga and dam building, engaging in sand and water play and with ample time for unstructured free play, children find themselves immersed in the world around them. Through action and interaction with their world as they experience it first hand through all their senses, children at Oak Hill grow and learn together securely grounded in nature through the changing seasons.
Year round picnics, bonfires, bark and leaf rubbings, chicken feeding, yoga sessions, apple picking, cider pressing, yard work, planting, tending and harvesting vegetables, splashing in the creek, sledding, scavenger hunts, songs and story time are just a few of the activities children at Oak Hill experience along the trails, fields, orchards, woods and hill tops surrounding the school.
When you join the Oak Hill family, you are not just enrolling your child in a nursery school. We are a close and caring community of families who recognize that we are all on this journey together. We understand that it does indeed take a village to raise a child, and at Oak Hill you will find that village.
- We offer Parent Education through parent evenings and discussion groups.
- Our Parent/Child Groups are a place for families of very young children to come together on a regular basis and begin to offer babies from 6 months an unhurried introduction to a social experience in the warm and welcoming environment at Oak Hill.
- Our seasonal celebrations bring the entire school community together for special festivals year round, with siblings, parents and grand-parents.
- Through our summer programs, we continue to be a place where children can return for several years after making the move to the Big School!
Through The Year At Oak Hill
Celebrate With Us
The children chop vegetables for the delicious soup for our Harvest Festival. We bake bread together and the children learn a short play and songs to give thanks for the abundance of our harvest. We celebrate Halloween with a party and fun costumes. Before the Fall draws to an end, we celebrate a Lantern Festival together on the Feast of St. Martin. Special Lanterns are made ahead of time and after songs and some warm gingerbread the children carry their lit lanterns outside to spread their light into the darkness of the coming Winter.
In observance of the Advent season we celebrate one of the most beautiful traditions of the year with our Advent Spiral. We mark Hanukkah and Christmas with special crafts and stories. As the winter draws to an end, we dip beeswax candles together for Candlemas Day and with Groundhog Day we celebrate winter drawing to a close as we anticipate the arrival of the spring and the reemergence of our animal friends! Valentine's Day is of course another fun reason for a special feast!
We welcome the return of the Spring with a community potluck and a spring play.
For our Arbor Day celebration, we plant trees in and around the Oak Hill yard and enjoy the first picnic of the season. One of the most anticipated events is our celebration of a traditional May Festival with Maypole dances, songs and flower crowns.
Just because the school year is over, the fun doesn't stop! Our Oak Hill Summer Days for children ages 4-8 offer the perfect balance between organized activities and unstructured time to simply enjoy the freedom of Summer the way it should be. We offer creek days, beach days, or theme days such as Farm Day, Zoo Day and our famous Oak Hill Olympics!
A Small Taste..
Wet-on-wet watercolor Painting is one of the highlights of the children's days together. The beautifully mesmerizing interplay of colors as they move and change before their eyes, is spellbinding and creates the most amazing and peaceful moments of concentration.
With JOY we greet the morning sun
Who shines with love on everyone
He shines in the sky, on the land and sea
And he fills me with light when he shines on me!
Earth who gave to us this food
Sun who made it ripe and good
Dearest Earth and dearest sun
We'll not forget what you have done
Kindergarten at Oak Hill
A Half Day Kindergarten option since 2018
Our quiet kindergarten classroom allows for a peaceful and unhurried transition into the world of letters and numbers. Children spend a portion of the morning here busy with early literacy skills, before joining the nursery school friends for our meal, circle time and our outdoor playtime.
Nature is Our Curriculum
There is so much to be learned from the world outside our window. Our kindergartners know that everything tells a story; Whether we find tracks in the snow, a cluster of hazelnuts hidden in a tree knot in the fall, half a bird egg shell under a tree in the spring or branches chewed off the bottom half of our blueberry bushes after a long winter, we learn from what we see and find outdoors. These stories are carried back into the classroom with us and form the foundation for our curriculum.
Inside the world of
Kindergarten at Oak Hill
Sunlight and birdsong are the biggest distractions as the children work. Our peaceful classroom setting allows short periods of deeply focused work, freeing the children up quickly to return to play, the real work of childhood!
We get by with a little help from our friends! Our small class size encourages teamwork and mutual support as we cheer each other on. Children have many opportunities to work together and hone valuable collaborative learning skills.
Many self directed activities allow the kindergartners to challenge themselves, and to build an intrinsic love for learning that forms a solid foundation for the world well beyond the kindergarten classroom.
Blank pages inspire beautifully colored pictures of our time together. Using mostly blank 'main lesson books' rather than preprinted worksheets, the children leave at the end of their year with a priceless collection of their own work.
Before COVID19 necessitated a change in how we approach schooling, we were already working on a new all outdoor Forest program. The pandemic simply served to speed up the process and inspire us to dream a little bigger in order to accommodate all the Oak Hill students in our new all outdoor campus. With plenty of safe, well ventilated areas for shelter we now have several new outdoor play areas as well as a beautiful new Forest Classroom. Our trails and play areas are forever changing, improving and expanding as the teachers work continuously to clear and enhance the opportunities for safe exploration.
Homeschool Enrichment Program
To support families who have opted to be fully remote or homeschool this year, we are now offering an enrichment program for 1st-3rd graders. Along with STEAM projects, singing, hiking and time for creative free play, we also reinforce reading and writing elements that the children are working on at home and through remote learning.
Meet The Director Kerstin Green
When I was 3 years old, I told anyone who asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up that I was going to be a nursery school teacher. Then I spent my high school and college years studying foreign languages and elementary and special education for no particular reason! In 1993 whilst looking for a preschool for my own children I came to the wonders and magic of the Rose Garden Nursery School in Cooperstown. All 5 of my children attended the Rose Garden, and I was fortunate to be invited to work there until 2006 when the Rose Garden closed their doors.
Originally intended to bridge the final two years of my youngest son's nursery school years until he was old enough to start kindergarten, I founded Oak Hill Nursery School in September 2006. 5 other Rose Garden families came along for the ride to keep our children together for the remainder of their preschool years. My first year started with 6 children and it became clear very quickly that Oak Hill was going to last a few years longer than originally planned!
With the capable and loving help of several assistants and co-teachers, Oak Hill has seen over 150 children spend their nursery school years and summer days here. We added the Oak Hill kindergarten program in 2018, and in September 2020 our all outdoor Forest Program was added to the mix of programs. In June 2021 we will celebrate the end of our 15th year, and I could not be happier to invite all our Oak Hill alumni back to help us mark the occasion!
I caught a wee little leprechaun, he had a bushy beard
He promised me treasure in a golden pot,
which he said was buried near,
I asked him to show me where to dig,
Set him down to lead the way
When I turned to pick up my shovel,
He hopped, skipped and jumped away!
March is here, and judging by the weather forecast for the first day it appears that it will indeed be roaring in like a lion; Let's hope that by the end of it all it is ready to creep out on soft and gentle feet like the proverbial lamb!
By the end of the month Cindy, Jess and I will all have had both our COVID19 vaccinations, and I couldn't be more excited!
This month has the potential to be just as cold as February, or it could swing around and treat us to some real early spring warmth and sun. Please check the weather forecast when you dress your child. These small and hardy friends are now seasoned 'outdoorspeople', and they will certainly feel the rising temperatures and suffer if they are overdressed with too many base layers. There are only so many times Jess and I can help remove and replace mittens when a hot and bothered friend is feeling 'itchy' and wants to scratch as they heat up under the clothes!
Please plan on keeping snow pants until the bulk of the snow is gone. If you are worried about bundling your child too much, leave off some of the underneath layers before you ditch the snowpants. And now more than ever, please ensure that you are adding a waterproof outerlayer. We will definitely be challenging the claims of 'waterproof' vs 'water repellent' as we move from winter through mud season and into the spring!
Here are the calendar dates for March and into April:
Wednesday and Thursday, March 17th and 18th
Spring Celebration 11:45 am *
To celebrate the (nearly) official start of spring, we will come together for a lunchtime celebration. The children will have a small play to show you, and plenty of lovely Spring songs to sing. Even if we have to dig out of a 10 foot snow bank, we WILL be celebrating spring today!! Please arrive slightly early for pick up so you don’t miss the play!
*Exact details TBD based on current covid rates/info at the time
April 2nd - April 13th
Spring Vacation - Happy Easter, Happy Passover!
We will be making up some time as the weather gets a little warmer. More information on this as we get closer.
Registration packets for the 2021/22 school year are coming home in backpacks. Please look for them. Priority enrollment ends March 21st. After that date I will be notifying our waiting list families of any leftover spots.
Most of you have met with me over zoom, I have just a couple more conferences before I wrap this phase up. If you have any additional questions or concerns about kindergarten readiness or any other issues, please reach out. This year more than ever it is important to me that we all feel comfortable that the correct decisions are being made about next school year. I will be sending out a conference summary email by the end of this week.
Finally, and most importantly of all: Please, PLEASE make sure your child uses the bathroom right before you put them in their car seats to bring them, even if they say they don't have to!
Kerstin Green xx
Spring Is In The Air
Radiant Sun from her throne in the sky, Looked down on the earth where the sleeping seeds lie
And thought to herself,"I think it
is time for the flower babies to wake up and play!"
So with her rays of gold, she knocked and knocked at each and every flower family's door. "Wake up! Wake up!" She chuckled with glee, "Time to wake up and color earth's floor!"
The Bluebells were first, Then crocuses and Rosies,
Daffodils and hyacinths and all sorts of posies
Yawning and stretching under radiant sun
"Yes!! We flowers make springtime so fun!"
"Oak Hill has been the best blessing for our son! Kerstin runs this Nursery School in the most amazing away - the children are truly nurtured, encouraged to explore and grow and come into their own in their own way, and at their own pace. She has a genuine and whole-hearted care for what is best for each individual child. There is not a one-size-fits-all practice at Oak Hill, but rather an environment that celebrates and embraces the wide and varied spectrum of growth happening amongst 3 & 4 year olds, with still a good amount of schedule and structure in their day. Imaginative play and outside play are priorities, they cook and bake on a regular basis, they do yoga at the top of a hill, play in the creek, make beautiful watercolor paintings - it's no wonder my family & friends wish they could all go to Oak Hill Nursery School too!"
Veronica mother of G.
"Oak Hill is such a special place. Kerstin knows and loves each child. Our daughter experienced both unconditional acceptance and gentle nurturing to help her grow. In her year there we saw her make tremendous strides in awareness of others, cooperation, and self-expression, but we always knew that she was deeply cherished for who she was."
April, mother of H.
"I cannot express how thankful I am that we have Oak Hill near by for my two children. I started looking when my daughter was still small, and Kerstin welcomed me with open arms. My daughter attended three full years, and this year has moved on to kindergarten in a public school. She is thriving. She loves going to school each day, comes home with excitement in her voice about the things she learned and did each day. I believe her early experience had a lot to do with her ease into this new phase. She is confidant in her abilities, she views learning as fun, and she is full steam ahead. Now I watch my son at Oak Hill, hiking to the creek and digging in the sandbox, coming home singing songs about the season and I am grateful he too will have this opportunity to discover himself and the world in a supportive and creative atmosphere. Oak hill and the community that comes with it has been a gift to our whole family!"
Jasmine, mother of R.
"Oak Hill is the most amazing nursery school experience we could have ever imagined for our daughter. Moving from a metro area, we weren't sure we were going to find a school in the country that embodied our ideas and values. Oak Hill has exceeded all expectations and continues to amaze us. We travel over 30 min each way to send our daughter and it is so worth it. Kerstin is truly gifted with children and we trust her implicitly with our kids. We love the Waldorf inspiration but also appreciate that Oak Hill is independent and incorporates its own style of learning. We have no doubt that our daughter's experience at Oak Hill will help her transition smoothly to public kindergarten and will prepare her for a lifetime of learning. We love the amount of outdoor time the kids get in all weather, the art, baking, stories, songs, imaginary play and seasonal celebrations. We also love the community aspect of the school and have formed many lasting friendships through the connections we have made here. Our older kids have attended the summer camp too, which is a terrific program, and look forward to it every year. We are beyond grateful that we found Oak Hill and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, loving, thoughtful, play based nursery school."
Jen, mother of A.
If you would like more information about our programs, send us your contact information and let us know how we can help you