Oakwood House is an in-home nature based play school located in Richmond, Virginia. We provide an outdoor, year-round morning program for 2-5 year olds, where children can engage in creative free-play in a lush Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat. Oakwood House strives to meet the American Forest Kindergarten Association's guidelines for 3 hours of unstructured outdoor play every day for children.
Oakwood House operates legally under the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) guidelines as a small unlicensed family day home, strictly adhering to child:teacher ratios and voluntarily following VDSS safety protocols.
Our mission is to foster a lifelong connection to nature and a passion for learning, by providing a rich outdoor environment for creative exploratory play, as a means for children to develop into enthusiastic learners and empathetic members of society with a higher regard for our planet and all of its inhabitants.
Hi, everyone! I'm Sarah. I am the the founder, homeowner, and main teacher for Oakwood House. I'm a lifelong naturalist, and there is nothing more exciting to me than helping others discover a passion for learning and the natural world. I grew up on a working farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains, spending all my free time exploring the forest, creeks, and meadows around me. I moved to Richmond in 1998, and I spent 4.5 years working with 2-5 year olds at Second Presbyterian Child Care Center, a NAEYC accredited play based child care located in downtown Richmond. After a few years volunteering with Virginia Master Naturalists doing public outreach and citizen science projects, I decided to pursue an education at Virginia Commonwealth University in biology. I have participated in research in migratory bird species, vernal pools, invasive insect population ecology, river ecology, nutrient cycling, and wetland/aquatic ecosystems, and have education in entomology, botany, ornithology, plant/animal interactions, and population ecology. Ever since reading "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv in 2005, the trend of children growing more disconnected with the natural world and having little time engaging in creative free play has been of great importance to me. With the birth of my first child in 2013, I started to reassess what important work I should be focusing on. Unable to find a nature preschool or forest school in the Richmond area for my own daughter to attend, I decided to get the ball rolling for Richmond and started my own nature play school.
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