Hartley Nature Preschool

2024-25 Preschool Year

Thank you for your interest in Hartley Nature Preschool! We are honored that you are considering Hartley Nature Preschool for your child’s preschool experience for the 2024-25 school year. All 2024-25 classes are full. You can find the 2024-25 waiting list application and waiting list information on our website.

Our Program

Hartley Nature Preschool’s mission is to inspire life-long connections with nature through education, play, and exploration while supporting the whole child’s development and preparing children for school.

HNP is a preschool program that:

  • Serves 3-5 year old children**
  • Emphasizes learning through playing outdoors
  • Supports the development of the whole child
  • Provides children with the chance to develop a lifelong connection with nature
  • Helps children prepare for kindergarten
  • Offers full day classes for 2 or 4 days per week
  • Offers half day classes, mornings and afternoons, 2 or 3 times per week
  • Offers a Tues/Thurs AM class just for three and young four year olds
  • Operates September-May
  • Is licensed by the MN Department of Human Services as a child care center
  • Is Parent Aware rated

**In general, children must be three years old by September 1st and fully toilet-trained to attend preschool.

Our Facility

Hartley Nature Preschool (HNP) is located at Hartley Nature Center in Duluth, MN.

The preschool classrooms, full of lovely natural light and age-appropriate furnishings and materials, are located in the nature center. The nature playscape (natural playground) is located just out the backdoor of the nature center. The preschool also uses the 660 acres of city-owned Hartley Park for learning and play! The Hartley Nature Center building expansion was completed in the fall of 2022 and has allowed us to expand our programming to allow for one half day class and two full day classes to happen at all times.

What is a nature preschool?

A nature preschool is a:

  • Licensed child-care facility

Where the emphasis is on:

  • Going outside daily in all (safe) weather
  • Learning through play and nature play
  • Child-directed, adult-supported activities
  • Seasonal, place-based curriculum
  • Whole-child development

Information from Green Hearts, Inc.

HNP is a Parent Aware rated program!

Parent Aware is Minnesota’s voluntary rating system for early childhood programs, including those in centers, homes, schools, and churches. Programs that participate in the Parent Aware rating program at any star level are going above and beyond the basic licensing requirements by taking additional trainings and developing curriculum and family support systems that research shows lead to children’s success in future schooling. Being rated also opens up state and county scholarship funding to help families pay for preschool! Parent Aware is currently undergoing an evaluation and redesign process at the state level and the system is expected to change a great deal in 2026. While we wait for those changes to be finalized, HNP is prioritizing staff retention and staff and child well-being instead of a higher star rating. Please reach out to the preschool director if you want to learn more about HNP’s Parent Aware ratings over the years, our current position on rating, and more.