For most kids, a trip to the zoo is exciting enough...now imagine getting to go every day! For roughly 100 kids, it's a reality. They attend "Zoo School" at the San Antonio Zoo.
"Its just like any other school, it just has the advantage of lions, tigers and flamingos" Education Director Stacey McReynolds says.
On any given day, you'll find 4 groups of anywhere from 10 to 16, 3 to 5 year olds excitedly walking around the zoo, holding onto a colorful tether, learning in ways in which they don't know they're learning.
"This morning I saw a group of students voting on whether they wanted to go see the hippo or go to the butterflies. And so they voted, they counted which number is bigger, who won," McReynolds said.
Every day, rain or shine, the kids are walking around the zoo, learning about everything from eels to elephants. Their excitement is obvious as they walk by the exhibits, mimicking the sounds of the animals they see. But, not all the time is spent walking the zoo's grounds.
"Parents always ask us 'Are you preparing kids for kindergarten? Are you doing kindergarten readiness?' And I say absolutely. That’s the lowest bar we hit," McReynolds said. Believe it or not, the kids actually like the classroom time, too. McReynolds says they get tired just like everybody does and when they do, they want to go sit down.
Zoo School is now in its 13th year. That means some of the kids who came through that first class are now sophomores in college. It is such a success, Zoo School is expanding. "We will be moving into our new campus in january and by 2020 we'll be the largest nature based pre-school in the country," McReynolds said.
The cost is relatively in line, and in many cases less than regular daycare. If you are interested in a spot for your child at Zoo School you can visit it's website at sazooschool.com