School Director
Brad Wagner
John McLaren Park 100 John F Shelley Dr San Francisco, CA 94134
Sapling Forest Preschool Openings Now!

A forest preschool where curiosity and compassion thrive.
Openings Now!


Our philosophy is simple: every child can, and will flourish when we provide them with the respect and the support they deserve.

Showing respect for children is paramount. It is the key to creating a safe and nurturing learning environment, especially because we are all unique individuals. When it comes to academic, social, and emotional development, no two children are the same. Therefore, we must give each child the freedom to grow at his or her own pace in a way that best suites them.

However, creating a comfortable atmosphere where children feel confident to learn is only part of it. Children also need well-trained and knowledgeable adults to guide them towards success. Through developmentally appropriate scaffolding, our children can reach their full potential.

When children know they have the respect and support of those around them there is nothing they cannot achieve!


We’d love for you to join the Sapling Forest community. Applying is simple with these easy steps:

1. Explore Our Website

We’ve provided basic information about our philosophies and offerings to help you decide if our program is right for your family.

2. Schedule a Video Chat or Voice Call

We’d love to speak with you so that we may get to know each other better and give you more information about our program. You can reach us at and 845-649-4880.

3. Attend an Open “House” or Tour

Come see where we learn and discover our wonderful program! Tours are now taking place.

4. Submit an Enrollment Application

If you would like to enroll, please submit an application at – Please note that we require a call or tour for all prospective families. Do not submit an application if you have not completed a call or tour.

5. Enroll

After reviewing your application, we’ll send an enrollment invitation. Upon accepting your invitation, you’ll pay your deposit (usually equal to one month’s tuition), fill out enrollment documents and review our Parent Handbook.


At Sapling Forest Preschool, children engage in social, academic, and emotional development within the natural areas of John McLaren Park. At 312 acres, it is the second largest park in San Francisco and boasts a tremendous amount of natural diversity. Your child will grow and learn while exploring scenic meadows, shaded forests, wetland habitats, and breezy grasslands. And thanks to its elevation, your child will enjoy breathtaking views of San Francisco and the surrounding area. John McLaren Park truly is one of the most awe-inspiring locations for children to exercise their minds and bodies.

Being a forest school means we are outside every day and engage in outdoor learning rain or shine. However, we do utilize a pop-up canopy to provide shelter from the rain and shade from the sun.


We recommend that all children use the bathroom before arriving. Restrooms are located at each of our drop off locations and children will be encouraged to use them twice daily: once before we hike to the area of the day and again during our daily hike. Additionally, every area of the day is within a 10 minute walk from a restroom. If a child needs to use the bathroom while we are in the forest, he or she will be escorted to the nearest restroom by a teacher.

School Closures / Severe Weather

In the event of severe weather, we will follow the school closure recommendations of The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). However, in some cases weather conditions may make it too dangerous to spend the day outside despite traditional schools remaining in session. We understand the inconvenience a closure may cause families. Therefore, whenever possible, we will schedule an indoor field trip to an educational facility such as a museum. Families will be notified of closures, impromptu trips, and additional information in a timely manner.

About Our School

At Sapling Forest Preschool, we strive to develop life-long learners who appreciate and care for the natural world around them. It is our goal to prepare children academically, socially, and emotionally, not just for Kindergarten but for their entire lives. While doing so, we aim to foster a love for the outdoors, a caring attitude towards the environment, and a kindness towards all things living.

In order to achieve this mission we have curated an amazing program with the needs of children at its heart. The outdoor environment lends us tremendous flexibility in selecting our areas of the day and thanks to this flexibility, children constantly engage with new environments, curiosities, and ideas. As we rotate through these areas of the day children have the opportunity to revisit familiar spaces while applying more developed ways of thinking to them. As our students explore the natural world around them our educated and trained staff will be right by their sides to ensure risks are taken in a safe and healthy manner. In addition, our staff members provide numerous opportunities for your child to grow intellectually. By combining a strong curriculum with a child’s intrinsic interest in the world around them, we have no doubt that Sapling Forest Preschool will start your child off on the path towards a bright future.

Program Options

Partial Day Forest Program:

This program runs from 8:30am - 1:30pm and is completely outdoors. Your child will grow and develop while taking part in our nature-based curriculum. Children end the day happier and healthier thanks to the opportunities to explore, play, and learn in an outdoor setting. See firsthand what science backed research supports - that children who participate in forest preschools show more cognitive, social, and emotional growth than their traditional preschool counterparts.

Full Day Hybrid Program:

We understand that many parents need a full day program and we also understand that children need a comfortable and relaxing space to compliment their outdoor environment. We’ve created our Hybrid Program, which runs from 8:30am - 5:00pm, to meet both of these needs. In this program your child will take part in, and receive all of the benefits of our Forest Program. Once the Forest Program ends for the day, your child will be transported to our nearby indoor location where he/she can relax and continue exploring, playing, and learning for the duration of the afternoon.

Parent Involvement

At Sapling Forest we maintain an open “door” policy. Parents are always welcome to join us for the day, however we do ask that you arrange this with us ahead of time so that we may prepare accordingly. Otherwise, we ask that parents do not stay beyond drop off. If you arrange to spend the day with us please encourage your child to adhere to school rules and routines. Below are a few ways you can get involved:

  • Birthdays
  • Cultural Celebrations
  • Reading to Students
  • Arts & Crafts Projects
  • Chaperoning

Our Approach to Discipline

Our emphasis on problem solving and conflict resolution supports our anti-bias goal, where children listen to and respect each other’s hopes, needs, and ideas. Children are gently guided to realize the effects of their actions upon one another. They are taught to be respectful of one another and are encouraged to seek out solutions to problems with each other. Our goal is to teach children how to self-regulate their emotions and behaviors so that they may be exceptional members of the community. We do not use corporal punishment of any kind nor do we use time-out procedures. Instead, teachers use redirectional approaches, role-modeling, and problem-solving discussions. We emphasize using positivity and praise to foster healthy behaviors in order to create a community of learners.

Our Teachers

Bradley Wagner, Director & Lead Teacher

Throughout his career, Brad Wagner has focused on educating the minds of our children. His passion for education first began while attending Cornell University, where he received a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. Brad later went on to complete his Master’s Degree in Childhood Education at Hunter College in New York City.

In addition to his schooling, Brad has extensive experience working and volunteering in educational settings with children ranging from 2 to 18 years old. He has volunteered in several elementary schools, substituted in grades K-12, and co-taught in preschool programs. His most recent work experience has been teaching 4th grade in a New York City public school.

Combined, Brad’s knowledge of childhood education and unique first-hand experiences provide him with an understanding of what children need to be happy and successful.

We are a proud member of the Wonderschool network.

Wonderschool is a group of early childhood programs that combine the quality standards of the best child care centers with the warmth of an in-home program in your neighborhood.

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