Cultivating creativity, heart, and readiness for life

Nature, Play, Relationship Based Preschool & Kindergarten for Children 2 to 6 Years Old


Please support Zyler and his amazing family on Go Fund Me and any other way you can think of!

Event Details

Please support Zyler and his amazing family on Go Fund Me and any other way you can think of!

At The core



The Secret Garden Preschool and Kindergarten, supports healthy family culture and child development through holistic early childhood, and family enrichment programs, classes, mentoring and community events. 


At The Secret Garden we strive to positively impact the world of children and families through nature-rich programs imbued with unshakable respect for individual potential, curiosity, creativity, and the innocence of childhood.


The vital importance of the first 7 years of life is  deeply understood at The Secret Garden Preschool and Kindergarten. We are dedicated to preserving the essential qualities of childhood innocence, while encouraging capable, respectful human beings; at home in their body, nature and with others; filled with imagination, creativity and ability.  

At The Secret Garden, we recognize harmonious family culture as central to the foundation for learning and future success of all children. We provide a natural, warm, and respectful environment to nourish and support each child’s individual development and growth, inviting a sense of curiosity for children and their families. Our holistic approach is play-relationship-nature based and offers all children the opportunity to learn through purposeful interactions with their environment while fostering joy, creativity and wonder.


In our fast-paced world, where the full experience of childhood is often compromised, the Waldorf/Holistic early childhood curriculum gives children the time and space to be themselves and grow at their natural pace. At The Secret Garden we embrace each child’s individuality and developmental needs by offering rich multi-sensory experiences. 

Through play, the children’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills are enhanced. These experiences combined with the daily, weekly and seasonal rhythm fosters security and trust, contributing to a solid foundation for their future schooling and overall success. 

A balanced, holistic approach to the educational experience sets the stage for children to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to go forth into the world with self-confidence and responsibility for their own destiny. 

We are dedicated to offering uplifting programs for children, families and educators.

More about The Secret Garden Preschool & Kindergarten


What we do with our days together.

  "...a child's spirit is not some casual sentiment to be added to his or her curricula of life like a spice or bit of seasoning, but rather it is the essence of life itself.)  Joseph Chilton Pearce

At The Secret Garden Preschool and Kindergarten, our holistic early childhood practices are based upon the fundamental need for relationship-based care (bonding and continuity), neurological research, and recognition of living arts (domestic, nurturing, creative and social arts) as central to the advancement of children’s social, emotional and intellectual skills. The physical setting is Nature-rich and home-like rather than institutional or school-like.  (See more in Philosophy/Curriculum).  Twice a week our setting is at Emigrant Lake, where we adventure, deepening our relationship to the space and each other.

“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are  able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The  need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—  these three forces are the very nerve of education.”

~ Rudolf Steiner

Upcoming events

Please phone (541)482-5543 to find out about our Winter Break, Spring Break and Summer Programs.


Paula and Dave...

-Thank you for your kindness, compassion and spirit!  M family

-Just can't thank you enough!  Thank you for your gentle guidance. S. D. LL

-We love you so much and so appreciate everything you do for our family and I can't wait for what's to come.  N

-Soooo grateful for you both. E. R.

-We are blessed to get to come to you! A. N. S.

-How lucky we are to have you in our lives!  Thank you for all your kind and wise words.  J. D. D. E.

Holistic Early Childhood Education Outlined

“Receive the children in reverence, educate them in love, and send them forth in freedom.” Rudolf Steiner 

Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy on education (Waldorf/Steiner Education) is based in these words and his spiritual-scientific research of the human being. From Steiner’s viewpoint, the personal work of the teacher and parent plays a significant role in the well-being of the child. The first 7 years being the foundational years, wherein the child is learning through imitation, are of great importance and influence upon the later years. “The first thing to be aimed for is a living comprehension of the child in all its pulsing life” (Steiner, The Child's Changing Consciousness, 1996) 

(See Curriculum for more)      Click here for an inspiring article on holistic/Waldorf practices in early childhood.

Holistic Early Childhood Educators

 "See how nature - trees, flowers, grass grow in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence...we need silence to be able to touch souls."  Mother Teresa 

The Holistic early childhood educator works with the young child by creating a warm, beautiful and loving home-like environment, which is protective and secure, and where things happen in a predictable, rhythmic manner. (See Curriculum for more).

Here's a taste of what we have for you...

Preschool & Kindergarten: 8:30-12:30 M-F


“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are  able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The  need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—  these three forces are the very nerve of education.”

~ Rudolf Steiner

Aftercare: 12:30-2:30 TWTh


We offer aftercare from 12:30-2:30 Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday.

The word on the street...


See what families are saying about The Secret Garden Preschool and Kindergarten.

Create your family culture


We are here to support you, and help in creating your harmonious family culture through parent-enrichment events and trainings.

Farm-School Program


Our Farm School Program is gradually unfurling... 



* Do we teach academics, like a,b,c?

* How do we handle disputes?

The Roots

                                                "Natures beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude."  Louie Schwartzberg

                                                                                   What are we cultivating in the children, together?


Lantern Walk Songs 2019


A video for your viewing pleasure.

About Us

What a gift it is for us to spend this time with you and your children!

Dedicated Educators


"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."  John Muir

Paula was born and grew up in Zimbabwe, where she had  the most wonderful childhood she could imagine; adventuring and exploring the big wide outdoors, playing with fairies, riding bikes, feeling free and deeply connected to the natural environment and herself.  

She holds the images of childhood innocence close to her heart and, with the dedicated involvement of her husband Dave Nourie, spends much time creating environments where children play, explore, stretch and unfurl in their own delightful ways.

Dave grew up in Chicago and San Diego, where he developed an unshakable love for BMX flatland riding, the outdoors and life in general.  (Look him up - he's famous!)

The faculty and staff of The Secret Garden, Preschool and Kindergarten, are here to gently guide and encourage; observe and be worthy of imitation; to smile, laugh, sing, and to hold all life with the utmost reverence.

What a gift it is for us to all spend this time together!


"Imbue thyself with the power of imagination.  Have courage for the truth.  Sharpen thy feeling for responsibility of soul."  Rudolf Steiner

more About Us


Rebecca Douthit joined The Secret Garden two years ago as a practicum student and fell in love with the school’s blend of outdoor education and Waldorf pedagogy. She has a longstanding interest in education and child rearing that includes decades of providing childcare for families, churches, parenting classes, as well as many years as a volunteer in public charter schools. After completing her upper division course work at the Evergreen State College studying Alternatives in Education, Rebecca worked for ten years at the Oregon Social Learning Center as a research assistant on grants looking at the risk factors passed down via inter-generational parenting and the effects of open adoption on children and their families. This summer Rebecca has started a long sought after journey of becoming a certified Early Childhood Waldorf teacher through the Micha-el Institute in Portland Oregon. She hopes to contribute her new-found skills towards helping expand the understanding and accessibility of holistic education in the Rogue Valley.


Brigieta Balsimo is an educator with a passion for the outdoors and play based learning. Coming from an environmentally based background, she is persistant in the explorative nature of the outside world. Currently attending RCC, she will graduate from SOU with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education, and continue her graduate studies in Environmental Education with a focus in Non-Profit Management. She is involved in several programs within the Rogue Valley that focus on sustainable agricultural and environmentally based education and field studies. She is also an advocate for expanding and sustaining literacy and the importance of storytelling.


Volunteer/Practicum Student

Each term we welcome a practicum student or two.

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The Secret Garden Preschool & Kindergarten

782 Park St, Ashland, OR 97520, US

(541) 482-5543


Morning Program

Monday - Friday: 8:30am - 12:30pm


Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 12:30-2:30 

Saturday - Sunday: Closed