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Pioneering Self-Regulation for an Unpredictable Future

We're not reinventing the wheel. Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and Danish forest schools have proven the power of child-led learning and nature immersion.

At LFE, we've updated these methods for today's world, focusing on self-regulation and adaptability.

We blend time-tested wisdom with cutting-edge science all centered on giving your child the skills they'll need to thrive, no matter what changes come their way.

​There is no better setting for a child

to be themselves and open to learning

than in an outdoor environment. 

"There's got to be a better way..."

A Message from the Founder 

Laura Engel

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Are you feeling unsettled about traditional preschool options? Do you sense that there's a better way to nurture your child's growth? If so, you're not alone. I've been there, and that journey led me to create Little Forest Explorers.

Let me be clear: LFE isn't for everyone.


We're not your typical preschool, and we're proud of that. We operate like a startup - innovative, flexible, and sometimes unconventional. Some days, you'll trek through the park to reach us. Your child will come home dirty every day, and yes, you'll need to pack extra clothes.

But here's the thing: if you're ready to embrace a different approach to early childhood education, one that respects your child's natural development and prepares them for an unpredictable future, you might just find your tribe here.

Meet The Team

We're a group of ambitious individuals working as a team to create the optimal environment for learning - both for ourselve AND your child.  We chose LFE after witnessing firsthand the magic that happens when children are truly seen, heard, and supported in their journey of self-regulation.

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Lead Teacher

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Maddy's affinity for the outdoors has been a lifelong journey. From childhood camping trips to college backpacking adventures, nature has always been her sanctuary and classroom.

Her academic pursuits in environmental sustainability, particularly hands-on experiences on a farm, deepened her connection to the natural world. Despite initially teaching in traditional Montessori settings, Maddy found her true calling when she discovered Little Forest Explorers.

The opportunity to teach in an outdoor classroom, particularly in the rich ecosystem of Golden Gate Park, reinvigorated her passion for education. Each day in this natural setting offers new lessons in mindfulness and appreciation for life's intricacies.

Maddy finds the children's enthusiasm for forest exploration both infectious and affirming. Their joy reinforces her belief in the power of nature-based education. Now, she can't imagine returning to a conventional classroom.

At Little Forest Explorers, Maddy has found the perfect synthesis of her love for nature and her dedication to teaching. She is grateful for the opportunity to guide young minds in this unique, dynamic environment, where every day brings new discoveries and growth.

Annelise's roots run deep in the natural world, nurtured by a childhood spent on a hobby farm just outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Her formative years were a tapestry of outdoor adventures: barefoot explorations of nearby creeks, tree-climbing expeditions, and fort-building missions in the local woods.

These early experiences laid the foundation for Annelise's academic and professional journey. While studying environmental humanities in college, she simultaneously worked at a local preschool, igniting her passion for integrating nature into education. This unique combination of environmental studies and hands-on experience with young children solidified her belief in the power of outdoor learning.

Annelise firmly believes that exploring the natural environment not only sparks curiosity and creativity but also fosters a lifelong love for learning. Moreover, she recognizes nature's profound ability to cultivate deep resilience and self-regulation skills in children.

"I believe that exploring the natural environment sparks curiosity, creativity, and a lifelong love for learning, as well as deep resilience and ability for self-regulation. I am so excited to be a part of LFE, and I can't wait to get to know your little explorer!" -Annelise



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Sienna's approach embodies the LFE philosophy, recognizing that the natural world is not just a backdrop for education, but an active participant in the learning process. Her enthusiasm for outdoor education and her commitment to fostering curiosity make her a valuable guide for the young explorers at LFE.

This passion for nature-based learning is deeply rooted in Sienna's lifelong dedication to working with children. Through various roles in education, she has come to appreciate the profound impact that environment plays in the learning process.

Sienna's own childhood experiences have significantly shaped her educational philosophy. Her most cherished memories were formed outdoors, where she was free to explore and learn without constraints. This personal history has instilled in her a deep appreciation for the power of outdoor education.

At LFE, the ever-changing outdoor environment reignites Sienna's sense of wonder daily. She approaches each day with fresh curiosity and an open mind, constantly reminded of the endless opportunities for learning and exploration that nature provides. This perspective allows her to share her enthusiasm for the outdoors with her young students, inspiring them to view the world through a similar lens of discovery.

Sienna believes that teaching in nature not only benefits the children but also enriches her own practice as an educator. The dynamic outdoor classroom challenges her to remain flexible and innovative in her teaching methods, constantly adapting to the environment and the children's evolving interests.

Beyond her role at LFE, Sienna's love for exploration extends into her personal life. She enjoys running, discovering new corners of the city, and traveling - activities that further fuel her passion for learning and adventure, which she brings back to enrich her teaching at LFE.

Sariah, a recent University of San Francisco graduate, brings a unique blend of creativity and genuine passion to Little Forest Explorers. Her background in film production and screenwriting enriches her approach to early childhood education.

At LFE, Sariah's exceptional ability to connect with children shines through. Her natural empathy and emotional intelligence create an environment where young explorers feel safe to learn and grow. This rare gift allows her to tune into each child's needs, fostering trust and encouraging exploration.

Embracing the natural settings of Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach, Sariah crafts engaging, hands-on experiences that spark curiosity and creativity. Her enthusiasm for outdoor education is evident in her daily interactions with the children.

Beyond teaching, Sariah's interests in dance and improv reflect her belief in personal growth through new experiences. This mindset not only enriches her teaching but also inspires her students to embrace challenges with confidence.

Sariah finds daily inspiration in the children she works with, viewing each day at LFE as an opportunity for mutual discovery and learning. Her unique combination of creativity, empathy, and dedication makes her an invaluable member of the LFE team.



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