Ijams adds nature pre-school; aftercare options

Amber ParkerFun Outdoors, South Knox

If you’re looking for a wonderful place for your preschooler to spend at least half of their day outdoors, make plans to attend an open house for the Nature Preschool at Ijams Nature Center Sunday, July 12, or Saturday, July 18, from noon-4 p.m.


Knoxville’s only full-time nature preschool focuses on social, emotional and academic kindergarten preparedness while children explore, learn and play in nature.

Amber Parker

“Ijams Nature Center’s Nature Preschool has always focused on providing children with an immersive outdoor educational experience, but it’s even more important during a pandemic,” Ijams Education Director Jennie McGuigan said.

“Ijams preschoolers receive traditional and child-centered academics and have the opportunity to exercise in fresh air while they play in puddles, search for wildlife in creeks, hike, boulder and experience the wonder of the world.”

The new full-time program, which opens Aug. 10, is from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Nature Preschool has added the option of aftercare from 3:30-5:30 p.m. for families who need extended hours.

McGuigan said the Nature Preschool at Ijams Nature Center has created a full safety plan to care for families during COVID.

“Safety is a priority in everything Ijams does. Parents need to have confidence that their children will receive the best daycare, preschool and aftercare options available.”

No registration is required to attend an open house. Administrator and lead teacher Leslee Moore will be on the porch to answer questions from a safe distance and families will enter the preschool for individual tours while masked.

Those unable to attend an open house may schedule an in-person or virtual tour by contacting Moore at 865-679-5491 or preschool@ijams.orgpreschool@ijams.org.

Amber Parker is executive director of Ijams Nature Center.

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