A Reggio-inspired in home preschool with an authentic and unique approach to early childhood education
Welcome to Creative Journeys WS, a progressive year-round in-home licensed preschool / childcare providing Orange County, CA families with a child-centered approach to early learning, collaborative family atmosphere, and a safe, inspiring environment that encourages exploration and creativity.
Our early-childhood program engages children ages 2-6 years with developmentally appropriate activities and focuses on the “whole child.” Through creative exploration and play, we support each child’s cognitive, physical, emotional, and social growth. Our program incorporates social and environmental awareness into our curriculum and emphasizes earth-friendly practices and healthy choices.
We appreciate your interest in Creative Journeys WS and hope you enjoy learning more about our preschool. Please browse through our site, and let us know how we can assist you. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Considering our school?
We are thrilled that you are considering our school for your child and for allowing us to share with you the benefits and opportunities available at our school.
To join the Creative Journeys community here are five easy steps:
1. Explore our website
2. Request Information/ Fill out the Family Profile
3. Tour our program
4. Submit application
**Please note: only applications submitted after tour will be considered **
**Please note; ALL children must be fully immunized or have an ME by their physician to be enrolled in our program**
Creative Journeys is tucked away in a tree-lined neighborhood of Tustin Ranch Village, in the Tustin Axiom APARTMENT HOME complex just off El Camino Real.
The community itself is very family friendly and just minutes from the South Coast Plaza, John Wayne Airport, City of Orange, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Irvine / Tustin Marketplace, and Newport beach.
We are easily accessible from the I-5, I-405, CA 55, 133, 261, 73 and 241. We utilize our community playground, and neighboring public parks. Pine Tree Park and Camino Real Park offer different experiences and adventures!
Please note that our building is marked on the map above. If you enter our address (13881 Tustin E Dr #35 ) in your GPS, you will see the map below, which will lead you to the right neighborhood but the wrong building.
Discover Preschool -
- Age: 2-3 year old
- Tuesdays and Thursdays (aka TTH)
- 8:30 -12 pm.
*Extended Day Options Available
Children spend time easing into the school experience at their own pace in a comfortable, familiar, yet evolving environment. Our focus is to help them feel safe and confident away from home and to see school as a place to explore themselves, their relationships, and their world. This age group thrives on new experiences, and we fulfill this need by providing care, directions, and projects that allow them to explore the world without stress or pressure. We aim to work with each child as an individual and ensure that each day is a fun-filled adventure.
Some specific goals we support are:
- Mastering separation
- Being in a group setting with teachers
- Exploring the sensory, physical and symbolic properties of materials
- Making friends
- Finding a meaningful, individual role in a classroom community
We use their skills to entice children to come together as a group. We want children to find their own connections to the school experience, and to find it exciting and meaningful. The schedule for this Discover Preschool class, like the curriculum, is simple and optional:
- An open-exploration time
- A simple clean-up time,
- Community Meeting
- Outdoor Play and Nature Exploration.
As the TTH class matures and grows together, the focus of the experience shifts towards groups working together. We gently guide the children towards putting small explorations together into sustained activities.
- Age: 3 - 5 yrs
- Monday, Wednesday and Friday (aka MWF)
- 8:30 - 12 pm
*Extended Day Options Available
By the age of 3-5, children naturally move into a different kind of learning, characterized by greater interest in their environment. Our Intermediate program sets the stage for children’s success in school and in life. Our program provides ongoing efforts to value children as individuals and embrace their unique contributions to the classroom community, which will inspire in them a love of learning to last a lifetime. We believe that children learn best when they are actively involved with materials and peers. That is why we place so much emphasis on setting up the proper learning environment and building positive, meaningful relationships with children and their families. We all play together, cooperate, and share.
Some specific goals for this older group:
- Friends and imagination take center stage
- Questions about the outside world become major sources of exploration
- Children begin to organize the world into categories, and their play into logical sequences of action. They seek out important roles in the classroom
- They begin to reflect upon the world, their surroundings and themselves
In order to meet these new capacities, we introduce new ways of exploring and representing the world, such as: a writing area, clipboards for dictating stories and ideas, and signs for important creations; dramatic play, sometimes facilitated with props, teacher involvement or familiar stories; a community meeting, where big new ideas are explored together; jobs and responsibilities for taking care of the classroom community; small groups where children can collaborate and work on developing new skills; projects that groups of children develop over time and a science area that allows children to explore questions or theories about the natural and physical world.
As the children move from young 3 to young 4/5’s we start to see and foster children’s more sophisticated interactions with each other and with their world:
- Children negotiate and develop imaginative and constructive play ideas together, often for days or weeks, developing the critical and creative thinking skills that will serve them for the remainder of their schooling and beyond.
- Children’s social skills take center stage. Problem-solving, conflict resolution, reading social cues, balancing initiative with compromise, are just some of the skills explored at the individual and group level.
- Pre-academic skills emerge as the children’s interest in literacy, numeracy and science takes flight. These skills are encouraged and embedded in child-directed play and work, as well as teacher-directed and small group times. Teachers individualize to the variation in children’s skill level at this young age in a way that ensures that each child is excited about his progress and eager to learn more.
- Children spend time hiking, climbing, digging, and playing in nature. This program provides a multitude of unique benefits. Among them are group effort and camaraderie, individual physical skill building, comfort in nature and the confidence that comes from adventure and risk-taking.
By encouraging curiosity, compassion, and a love of learning, our dedicated staff inspires imagination. Through richly textured learning experiences and a carefully designed environment, we encourage children to seek out information and look for facts. We value wondering and playing with possibilities. Teachers encourage creative exploration through art, music, and movement. Children also experience a rich variety of learning experiences including science, block constructions, books, cooking, and dramatic and sensory play
We also offer an alternative to single-age groupings and try to support families schedules by offering a M-F group that provides the value of flexibility and the benefit of mixed-age learning. The primary value of mixed-age programs is the flexibility they provide to children whose growth is a series of sudden spurts rather than a smooth, linear progression. By serving a range of students with a large chronological-age span, the norm becomes a wide range of abilities rather than the expectation that everyone is at the same level.
Extended Care Options:
Creative Journeys WS is committed to supporting families with a broad range of needs and schedules Families can enroll their children for additional time up to a full day for each day their child attends class. The different components of our extended care program are:
EARLY MORNING CARE: M-F; 7:00 - 8:30 AM Early morning care is a relaxed, comforting time to ease into the morning with informal activities, and breakfast is provided.
LUNCH BUNCH: M-F; 12:00-12:45 PM Children from both TTH or MWF classes share a relaxed lunchtime with teachers from their morning class and PM Care. Lunch is provided. Participants in “Lunch Bunch” enjoy some extra bonding with friends from their core class and beyond. An extra story time provides the transition to Extended Afternoon Care for those who participate.
AFTERNOON CARE: M-F; 12:45-4:30 PM Our afternoon program is designed as a more informal encounter, where children can combine the deeper exploration of their interests with learning opportunities that emerge from the care taking activities of napping/resting, eating, and dressing. A typical afternoon includes -A nap or rest time, Healthy nutritious snack frequently created by the children; An indoor/ outdoor play-time that might range from a craft project to a dance party to dramatic play based on the children’s interests.
EXTENDED AFTERNOON CARE: M-F 4:30-6:00 pm Open exploration and the extra nurturing that children may need during a full-day at school.
Snacks and Meals
Creative Journeys prepares and serves breakfast, lunch, and two snacks daily. Much, but not all the food served at Creative Journeys for children is organic. We also participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program which provides guidance in health and safety standards, training and monitoring make CACFP an important component of quality child care.
Parents and family members (18 years of age or older) are welcome to volunteer in the classroom. If this is not possible due to work schedules, we understand. Please discuss volunteer opportunities with Creative Journeys if you are interested.
Our Approach to Discipline
We believe in using positivity and praise to foster healthy behaviors and a healthy learning environment. Our goals include teaching children self-control and respect for themselves and others. Our constructive techniques include redirection, anticipation, modeling, natural consequences, elimination of potential problems, and teaching children to resolve conflicts on their own in an appropriate manner.
Exposure to nature is a large component of our philosophy at Creative Journeys. We have a covered patio that children will use daily for extended learning in Science, Technology Engineering Art and Math. With the knowledge that time in nature is beneficial to our well-being, I use the neighborhood playgrounds for outdoor time daily to build on gross/ fine motor skills, social-emotional, and intellectual health.
As an allergy alert: We have 2 dogs that live in the home but will not be in contact with the children.
Director and Head Teacher, Creative Journeys.
Karen Kohler is living her passion by working with young children. Karen is a true early childhood childcare expert. Her passion began at an early age and continues as a mom on a mission. She believes that schools are far more than buildings, classrooms, and curricula. They are places where children spend much of their time. Therefore, we should take great care in creating safe, nurturing environments that inspire imagination and creativity.
Ms. Karen currently holds 36 Units in Early Childhood education classes from City College of San Francisco, and 9 units Administration of Early Childhood Programs from UCLA extension. Ms. Karen has extensive experience in Educational Consulting, Teacher Mentoring, Instructional Leadership, and Curriculum Development. “30 years of educational experiences, paired with my time working alongside amazing educators, reflective directors and creative children, has shaped my ever-evolving philosophy as an educator. I believe that children deserve high-quality early childhood experiences, which shape their approaches to learning throughout their lives.”
“My goal,” Karen says, “is to provide an inviting environment where children feel safe and supported, develop a love of learning, and gain self confidence as learners and valued members of our community.”
I look forward to partnering with the children and families that choose to embark on this creative journey of growth and experience with Creative Journeys Wonderschool
“Miss Karen is an amazing teacher! She makes learning so much fun. My daughter has had her as a teacher for almost 2 years. She loves going to school everyday and can’t stop talking about everything she’s learned. It gives me peace of mind knowing my daughter is in such good hands. Miss Karen truly cares about all the kids and wants everybody to strive. She goes above and beyond her teaching duties. Miss Karen has taught me a lot about her style of teaching and I feel very lucky to have found such a great teacher. My daughter will be starting TK in the fall and I’m 100% sure she’s ready. “ - Jane K
“We love and respect Ms Karen to the moon and back. We were fortunate enough to have both our children in her care before moving out of state. Our girls were able to transition to a new school prepared and in many cases ahead their classmates in every way. She is caring, genuine, and amazing with children. She set the bar high and my girls a year later still talk about their experiences with her. “ - Bethan-Rose
“Ms. Karen is truly the best! My son has been fortunate to have her as a teacher for the past 2 years. I am amazed by the progress he’s made during that time. Ms. Karen has an incredible ability to incorporate each of the children’s interests into her teaching. My son has developed a love for learning and is excited to go to school each day. He is not only progressing academically, but socially, emotionally, and physically as well. Ms. Karen encourages him to try new skills and I’ve seen his confidence and abilities grow. Ms. Karen is knowledgeable and passionate about teaching and it shows!” - Ang G
“My child was blessed to have a teacher like Karen, she has made it difficult for me to have any other teachers after. Her creative style of teaching while beautifully documenting the child process is a rare find in today’s classrooms. With so much of our education system pushing kids to be robots. Karen understands the essence of the child, helps them grow and develop thier true gifts. Can’t say enough about her. The world needs more teachers like Karen.” - Gali E.
“SO glad to have found this program! Ms.Karen is calm, gentle, and very tender all the while being firm. The children are always engaged, have open choices and surely brain cells are not wasted on tv! My son is very shy but we have already seen a difference in his demeanor as he is starting to play with other kids and smiling after just a few weeks. At first I was worried about being in an apartment complex but so glad I gave it a chance. The place is clean and has nice toys that if I had the time, I would stay and play too. She encourages “out of the box” play and I have witnessed this! I am amazed! I just learned more about Wonderschool and how they support early childhood education. Who knew that kids could learn so much in preschool!!” - S.M.
“We are so happy with the care our son receives from Ms. Karen! He is growing so much emotionally, intellectually, and physically under her care. She meets his individual needs and supports his interests. Any child would benefit from her expert care!” - Amanda L.
“ Karen is the ‘preschooler whisperer.’ Seriously she’s an amazing woman. You will not be disappointed. “ - Trina A
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.