"If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it." --David Sobel


Many early childhood experts believe physical activity and unstructured free play are two main ways to learn and grow developmentally. Unfortunately, both of these ideas are usually lacking at typical early development centers. Play is usually directed by adults and students are more likely expected to sit still to complete worksheets and trace letters and numbers. What if there was a better way to facilitate early childhood education?

Catchin' crayfish


Children climbing on their favorite tree

The Concept of "nature school" or "forest kindergarten" is a form of early child education based on the German model of "Waldkindergraten" or "forest school". Learning takes place almost entirely outside and in all seasons. Children learn in a natural environment with an adult who encourages curiosity-driven play.

Earth n' Root Nature Group meets at the beautiful Soul Food Farm in Shepherdstown, WV and draws inspiration from a Reggio Emilio, Maria Montessori, and Forest school by not having a set curriculum; It is entirely child-led learning and can include:

  • Exploring woods discovering plants and animals
  • Recognizing patterns in nature
  • Splashing in a creek looking for crayfish and minnows
  • Improving balance by climbing and jumping over rocks, trees, and stumps
  • Using mud to make art or as "food" in a pretend kitchen

Children have a chance to observe changes in the natural world and learn about each season. An adult is nearby to assist or encourage discussion, but never intrudes unless safety is a concern.

Child holding a worm


Identifying Fungi

Our Mission

We believe that open-ended, child led, interactive play in the natural world should be the main focus in childhood learning. The main goal of Earth n' Root Nature Group is to allow our children to grow with:

  • A greater sense of independence
  • Improved self confidence
  • Problem solving skills


  • Enhanced fine and gross motor skills
  • A deeper connection to the outdoors
  • A chance to be creative thinkers


"My daughters have been attending Earth n Root with Ms. Jen for two years and absolutely love it! The kids are allowed to explore and play in an environment that fosters cooperation, kindness, and problem solving. Earth n Root is the school I wish I had as a kid!"

-- Sarah (Parent of two)


"Earth n' Root was my daughter's first "school" experience and it could not be more perfect for her. She has thrived in this amazing group and it is a great addition to our homeschool curriclulum."

-- Ashley


I cannot say enough great things about this program. My 5 year old son has been at Earth-n-Root for a full school year and his experience has been nothing short of amazing. We had tried a couple other options for preschool, but they just didn't fully fit our needs. My son now asks daily to go to school rather than fight to stay home. He comes home with new stories, knowledge and experiences each and every time he goes. Ms. Jen is kind, compassionate, enthusiastic and caring. Each day you are greeted with a smile, you can truly tell she is doing what she loves and fulfilling her life's purpose. My son is thriving emotionally, intellectually, mentally and physically and I contribute so much of that to this wonderful program. We are truly lucky to have a program like this in our area.

-- Josie

Think Earth n' Root might be a good fit for your child?
Contact Us!

2022 / 2023 Hours and Tuition

Children ages 3 - 7
(Child must be potty trained for enrollment)

Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday
9:00 am - 12:00 pm


any 2 day week

3 day week

$250 / month
$375 / month