How much time do the children spend outdoors at Little Hawks?

Each session begins with outdoor time. Usually, the children spend about half (60-90 minutes) outdoors. The outdoor time includes a daily hike on the ODC property. The teaching staff considers the weather (cold, wind) and adjusts the amount of time accordingly. As a rule, though, the children spend a significant amount of time outdoors everyday, in all weather. Appropriate dress is important; the preschoolers come to school dressed to be outdoors.

What kind of clothing does my child need to have if they attend Little Hawks Discovery Preschool?

Nature based learning can be a messy job! For this reason, it is important that your child come dressed for messy, outdoor play. Clothing that can be covered in mud, paint, clay, and other natural materials are a must everyday! Your child will need comfortable, closed toed, protective shoes that enable him/her to run, jump, and climb. Little Hawks have the opportunity to paint each and every day so clothing can get consistently messy! Also, comfortable clothes that allow children to move freely work best. We love to be active!

Layers of clothing for the changing weather and moving from outdoors to the indoors are needed for your child to enjoy a variety of activities. Each preschooler will need a backpack with spare clothes and inside shoes.

Clothing needs for each season include:
Fall: and Spring: Rubber boots, coat, rain suit or jacket and pants
Winter: Snow pants, winter coat, waterproof mittens, scarf, wool socks, hat, boots

Many parents order rain gear from oakiwear:

How old does my child have to be to register for preschool at Little Hawks?

Children who are three years old on or before September 1st and are toilet-trained (can use the bathroom independently) are eligible to register for the three-year-old session.

Children who are four years old on or before September 1st are eligible to register the four-year-old sessions.

Sessions for three- and four-year olds together are open to children of both ages.

We only accept registrations for the upcoming year. However, we maintain a list of parents who are interested in enrolling in future years and notify them of upcoming registration dates. You can add your name to this list by emailing your name, your child’s name and birthdate to

Does Little Hawks provide any of the needed clothing?

We have a number of rain suits and boots that can be borrowed (yearlong checkout).

When can I register my child? Is there a waiting list for future years?

Registration for the upcoming year begins in January. The registration is online. The date and time when registration begins will be posted on our website. We will also email this information to parents who have added their name to our contact list. To add your name to the contact list, send your name, your child’s name and your child’s date of birth to:

Do I need to be a resident of the Hamilton Community Schools to register?

No, although we are located within the boundaries of the Hamilton Community Schools, the Little Hawks Discovery Preschool is a program of the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway. All children from throughout the community are eligible to register.

What is required for registration?

A completed registration form (online) and a deposit of $50 are required for registration.

The deposit is applied to the cost of tuition. If you withdraw after your child’s enrollment has been confirmed, your deposit is forfeited.

What other paperwork is required?

Before the start of the school year, parents will be required to complete a Student Information Record and forms related to walking field trips, photos and videos. Additionally, a health appraisal and current immunization record must be provided before preschool begins. Parents will be asked to present an original birth certificate to verify the child’s date of birth. This verification can be completed before the first day of preschool.

Is there financial aid to help with tuition costs?

Tuition scholarships for the afternoon four-year-old session are available for qualified families through Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP). The Ready for School Holland/Zeeland/Hamilton Initiative has also provided tuition assistance to qualified families . The same application form is used for both; it is available on our website ( along with income guidelines.

Is this a cooperative preschool?

No, the Little Hawks Discovery Preschool is not a cooperative preschool; parents are not required to help at the preschool. However, we have a very active volunteer program. Once parents (or other family members) have completed a volunteer profile and a background check has been completed, they are qualified to volunteer in the preschool classroom.

Will I be able to visit during the time that my child is in preschool?

If you have been approved as a volunteer, you can sign up to help at the preschool. However, we are unable to accommodate parent visitations because of issues of space and safety.

Can I visit the preschool if I am interested in enrolling my child in the future?

We are unable to accommodate visitors to our preschool when we are in session due to issues of space, safety and privacy. We will schedule open house times when families are invited to meet our teaching staff and visit the classroom.

There are several professionally produced videos on our website that will give parents a good idea of what the Little Hawks preschool experience would be like. These videos were created at Little Hawks during regular sessions in the 2013/14 school year. View Videos.

Are snacks provided for the preschoolers?

Yes, snacks are provided and served “family style” each day. Typical snacks include items like fresh fruit and vegetables, pretzels or graham crackers, yogurt, or cereal bars. Milk or fruit juice is also served daily.

Will Little Hawks prepare my child for kindergarten?

Absolutely! Our curriculum is active, engaging and appropriate for the growing brain of a preschooler. Each week you will receive a newsletter explaining the learning activities and their connection to preschool learning and school readiness.

We use a research-based curriculum, Creative Curriculum, within a framework of nature-based learning. Each child is assessed through observation of behaviors and skills that form the basis for development of a successful learner.

How are letters and numbers taught?

Children learn letters and numbers through active engagement and “real” use. For example, children learn to recognize the letters in their name as they “check-in” and write letters as they label pictures of things discovered on a class hike. Little Hawks Discovery Preschool provides a print rich environment, both inside and outdoors, surrounding the children with the resources for them to learn through play.

The teaching staff observes and monitors the progress of each child as they learn letters and numbers. Small group activities provide daily opportunities for focused instruction and practice of readiness skills.

What if I think my child may need special education services?

Special education services (for example, speech and language therapy) are provided through the school district where your family resides. Our teaching staff will help facilitate communication with the appropriate special education personnel.