Licensed through the

Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC)


A farm & forest learning experience

Baby Owl Illustration

51 Soule Street Middleborough, MA 02346


Our Mission

Fern Brook teachers guide children in their natural curiosity about the world around them, while facilitating peer relationships, building problem-solving skills, encouraging risk-taking, in order to prepare today's children to be tomorrow's leaders.

Firm Pine Tree

Our Philosophy

At Fern Brook, we believe that young children learn best through play and child-led inquiry. We incorporate a combination of Reggio Emilia's project-based learning and Waldorf's play-to-learn philosophies to allow children to lead the learning process and gain an understanding about the natural world through play and exploration.

Grown Seedling Illustration

Our Roots

Flat Buildable Plant Roots

We started Heart & Soule Farm in Middleborough, Massachusetts in 2013. Over the next several years, we added pigs, goats, chickens, ducks, honeybees, gardens, and eventually two children of our own.

Lindsay had been a kindergarten and preschool teacher for 15 years in the Boston Public Schools when the Fern Brook dream was born. Kevin continues to work as a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at a local city hospital with over 10 years of experience, in addition to being the Fern Brook Health Consultant and School Nurse.

After having our own children and observing their joy and learning through farm and nature activities, we decided to combine our professional experience with our passion for the outdoors and create Fern Brook Nature School.

Meet the Team

Lindsay Hayden Runey

Director, Owner, and Teacher

Kevin Runey

Registered Nurse and Owner

Kristen Mowry


Sarah Gilbert


Kelly Fitzmaurice


Bella Pompei


Click on a program for more information.

Early preschool

Ages 2-3

Organic Acorn with a Leaf


Ages 3-4



Ages 4-6

Oak Leaf Illustration

SuMMER Program

Ages 3-7

Smiling Cute Sun

51 Soule Street Middleborough, MA 02346



AGES 2-3

Early Preschool gives children a chance to explore their natural surrounding, build language, and create friendships in a safe, nurturing environment.

Of course, getting messy is an important part of the learning process!

The max teacher to child ratio is 1:4.

Days Per Week

Half Day Program


* We only offer a half-day option for Early Preschool at this time.

5 Days


3 Days M/W/F


2 Days T/Th


Children who are between 2 - 2.11 years old as of the start of the school year are placed in this class. They remain with the same class throughout the year even if their 3rd birthday passes.

Click here for the school calendar.


AGES 3-4

Preschool teachers support children as they navigate social situations, explore the world around them, and begin asking "Why?".

Preschool provides the engaging hands-on experiences to learn the "why"!

The max teacher to child ratio is 1:6.

Days Per Week

Half Day Program (8:30AM-11:30AM)

Full Day Program


5 Days



3 Days M/W/F



2 Days T/Th



Click here for the school calendar.

Children who are between 3 and 3.11 years old as of the start of the school year are placed in this class. They remain with the same class throughout the year even if their 4th birthday passes.


AGES 4-6

In Pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten, children engage in structured activities with teacher guidance, as well as free play in nature. By limiting class size to 12 with 2 teachers, children receive plenty of individualized attention, love, and support in their academic, physical, and social-emotional growth. Students leave Fern Brook as prepared (if not more) for kindergarten as their peers who attend traditional preschools.

Our balanced approach to combining academics and open-ended play gives children a magical year before entering traditional schooling or a homeschooling program.

The max teacher to child ratio is 1:6.

Days Per Week

Half Day Program (8:00AM-12:00PM)

Full Day Program


5 Days



3 Days M/W/F



2 Days T/Th



Click here for the school calendar.

Children who are 4 years and older as of the start of the school year are placed in this class. They remain with the same class throughout the year even if their 5th or 6th birthday passes.

Organic Acorn with a Leaf









Ages 3-7

EEC Licensed

Small Group Size

Register for just

one week or all six!


8:30AM - 12PM


Program includes

free play in our

mud kitchen, forest,

and meadows!

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Learning Goals

At Fern Brook Nature School , children will:

  • observe, wonder, question, and inspire
  • problem-solve
  • take risks in their learning and physical development
  • create positive relationships with their peers and teachers
  • build an understanding of science and social studies concepts
  • practice mindfulness and meditation
  • become environmental stewards
  • develop language and vocabulary for conversational and academic purposes

  • learn foundational literacy and math skills
    • ​letter and numeral identification
    • letter-sound correspondence
    • sight words
    • emergent reading skills
    • storytelling, drawing
    • emergent writing
    • counting
    • shapes
    • patterns
    • data collection and analysis
    • measurement
    • calendar math

What does child-led learning look like at Fern Brook?

Topics of study are designed around children's current interests, rather than teacher-created themes.

Teachers facilitate high-interest centers to promote language development, imagination, creativity, social relationships, and academic skills incorporating a variety of hands-on learning materials.

Structured mini-lessons and activities are purposefully placed into the schedule to prepare children for traditional kindergarten.

Children engage in project-based inquiry, following the Reggio Emilia philosophy of documenting and displaying the learning process.

Literacy, math, science, social studies, and social-emotional learning are embedded into all activities to create authentic, meaningful learning opportunities.

Outdoor Space

Fern Brook Nature School is set on 15 acres of private land. It contains a shallow brook, lots of trails, meadows, gardens, fruit trees, berry bushes, wildflowers, and more! We spend just about 100% of our time outdoors.

Our mud kitchen and sensory tables give children lots of opportunities for measuring, scooping, pouring, problem-solving, and experimentation.

Loose parts and natural landscaping provide space for children to climb, jump, build, crawl, balance, and roll.

Provocations are set up to extend current topics of study.

The Farm

Children have the opportunity to participate in farm chores as much as they feel comfortable.

Animal chores include:

feeding & watering


Garden chores include:





Of course, observation and inquiry-based learning are always happening on the farm.

Learning Barns

Our two indoor learning barns serve as emergency shelters for extreme weather.

In addition, our extended care group utilize these heated and air conditioned spaces for rest time and indoor activities.

Firm Pine Tree

Get in touch with us.


51 Soule Street Middleborough, MA o2346

Email Address

Phone Number

(508) 944-8691 Call or Text


"Children deserve to grow and learn in a place & alongside a force that is a wild and alive as they are."

-Nicolette Sowder

"It's a wondrous thing how the wild calms the child." -Unknown

"I am happy out here. Dirty feet, messy hair, & wild water on my skin. Out here with the wild things; this is where I belong."

-Brook Thompson

"There's nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend."

-Bob Ross

"We could have never loved the earth so well if we had no childhood in it." -George Eliot