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About Samara Early Learning

Our Mission & Vision

The mission of Samara Early Learning, LLC is to support early childhood professionals in implementing high-quality nature-based administrative and pedagogical practices. Our vision is to be leaders in ensuring all young children have access to high-quality nature-based early childhood education.

What We Do

We believe all young children have a right to frequent, positive experiences in the natural world. We also believe one way to accomplish this is to integrate high-quality nature-based education into formal early childhood classrooms. Our mission at Samara Early Learning is to support early childhood professionals in doing just that. We accomplish this by administrative, pedagogical, and evaluation support through publications, speaking and workshops, and consulting. These services are tailored to meet the specific needs of our audience which is primarily made up of three broad groups:  

  • Organizations or individuals looking to start a nature-based preschool (or a similar model such as a forest preschool)

  • Administrators and teachers of existing nature-based early childhood programs (e.g., nature-based preschools, forest preschools, nature kindergartens)

  • Administrators and teachers of traditional early childhood programs (i.e., PreK and K-3) looking to move towards a more nature-based approach 

Of course, we work with anyone who has a shared interest in implementing high-quality nature-based early childhood education. Learn more about the work we do and various services we offer by clicking here.

Why the name "samara"?

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The term “samara” is meaningful for several reasons. First, it is the scientific term for the helicopters, whirlybirds, or whirligigs that children often play with. There’s pure joy is tossing a samara into the air and watching it twist and whirl its way to the ground! Nature-based early childhood education is of course focused on providing children with joy-filled experiences and learning opportunities.

Second, the name represents the intersection of personal connection and meaning with scientific naming and categorizing. Technically a samara is an indehiscent, usually one-seeded, winged fruit from a plant such as the elm or maple tree. By helping kids understand that helicopters have another, more scientific name we are supporting their language, comfort, and identity as a scientist—someone who studies the natural world around them.

Third, the appearance of samaras varies by species based on the particular context where it grows, and yet all meet the basic criteria for being considered a samara. This is true for nature-based early childhood education programs as well. There are core commonalities in philosophy and pedagogy, but the details will vary depending on environmental, cultural, and community context.

Fourth, the maple samara has personal significance to our founder as a symbol of the arrival of spring in her home in the upper Midwest. In early spring the maple tree provides the sweet sap that is made into maple syrup. Later in spring the leaves and samaras emerge on the tree. Both are symbols of renewal, growth, and hope for the future. Nature-based early childhood education is inherently hopeful for the future as we are investing in the health and well-being of future generations.

Now that we’ve explained why we chose “samara” we should discuss pronunciation. The word can be pronounced “sam-er-uh” or “suh-mair-uh.” We typically use “suh-mair-uh,” but you can say it whichever way you choose. In fact, in the end we don’t care how you pronounce the name so long as you call us when you’re in need of administrative, curricular, or research help related to nature-based early childhood education.