The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Early Explorers Preschool, an outdoor early-education program, has received its official license from the state to become the first licensed outdoor preschool in California.
“We are really proud of what we’ve created with our Early Explorers preschool, which offers a one-of-a-kind preschool experience for children that is rich with hands-on learning, provides kinder readiness, and most importantly is at the Zoo,” said J.J. McLeod, Director of Education at the Santa Barbara Zoo.
The Early Explorers program was expanded from the existing Outdoor Education program in 2020 to become an outdoor preschool for children ages 3 to 5, which focused on teaching through outdoor play and hands-on experiences.
“Children are surrounded by wildlife that they get to learn about, visit regularly, and develop a natural appreciation for their conservation,” McLeod said.
Early Explorers learn about the natural world through gardening, outdoor play, and exploration, and classes have a student-teacher ratio of 6:1. Students are grouped together from ages 3 to 5 to “enhance academic and social skills development.” Zoo walks, sustainability and garden education, art, and zoo train rides are also incorporated into the week.
Registration is now open for preschool at the zoo, and participants must be Santa Barbara Zoo members to enroll.