Program to offer parents great new concept

DSC_4532San Clemente, Calif.—A new concept in early childhood education is the inspiration of a new preschool for children in San Clemente. Students at the Gratitude Garden Preschool will interact with nature, express gratitude and learn the fundamentals of early math and literacy.

Dr. Dustine Rey, founder and executive director of the new school, is announcing the opening of a nature-based year-round preschool with a balanced focus on a STEM-inspired curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and strong social and emotional influences. The new school will open in March 2015.

The school’s design utilizes the rich teaching opportunities and discoveries of nature. The classrooms are both indoors and outdoors, allowing students to explore, play and apply early concepts in math, engineering, physics, science, art, music and ecology. Students will participate in martial arts, cooking, foreign languages, dance and various forms of artistic expression. The curriculum is designed to instill a love for learning by giving children confidence to try new things and learn about the world around them.

“Children are naturally little scientists, curious about how the natural world works and why. Preschool is the perfect time to connect young curiosity to the foundations of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in a fun and playful way” says Dr. Rey. “STEM is a perspective of connecting what children learn in a variety of settings to a range of materials for investigation, observation, inquiry, and creation. This is why the outdoor classroom is one of the greatest settings for learning.”

The school will provide full-day educational care for children ages two through six and offer monthly Parents-Night-Out programs and quarterly parent educational workshops. The Gratitude Garden Preschool will serve 48 students in environmentally friendly classrooms designed to ignite the imagination. The classrooms are kept small, and all homemade snacks are organic and non-GMO.

“We aim to increase the well-being of our students, their families and the community,” says Rey. “We will do this by including parents in everything, including educational workshops that provide tools for creating and maintaining wellness in the home. By sending home digital pictures and videos, teachers can share learning moments with parents on a daily basis.

gratitudeAnother unique feature of the school will be the absence of poured rubber and concrete surfaces in the play area.

“We intentionally do not have prefabricated play equipment that confines how and where children play,” says Rey. “Instead, we assist children in creatively designing a play scenario constructed from their imagination and developmental needs.” These child-initiated projects allow young learners to let their curiosity drive the process of learning. At this age, play and learning are expressions of the same concept.”

As its name suggests, The Gratitude Garden Preschool places great emphasis on gratitude. “We know that children are at their best when they are given opportunities to be kind, experience appreciation for things and feel gratitude toward others,” says Dr. Giacomo Bono, psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and co-author of Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character. “With habits of gratitude and kindness children not only experience better moods, they engage their minds and senses more in activities, cooperate better with others and make greater use of their character strengths and imagination. Quite simply, they start growing a motivation to do more for the world and themselves. It is in this kind of supportive community where children learn better to bounce back from adversity and grow their natural capacity to connect more strongly with school and family.”

“The development of gratitude and generosity are priorities at our school,” says Dr. Rey. “Through the use of art, stories, songs and theater, students here learn to appreciate the world and people around them, and we take every opportunity to nurture such positive motivations and character strengths in our students.”

Prospective parents and caregivers are invited to attend the school’s Information Sessions held at

The Sun Dried Tomato Café, 821 Via Suerte, San Clemente, CA on the following dates:

Wednesday, Jan. 7, 5-7 pm

Wednesday, Feb. 4, 5-7 pm

Wednesday, March 4, 5-7 pm

Saturday, March 14, 12-2 pm

 More sessions are available at Barnoa (21 and over), 831 Via Suerte, San Clemente, CA on:

Thursday, Jan. 22, 5-7 pm

Thursday, Feb. 19, 5-7 pm