Preschool in the Woods?

June 07, 2010 1 min read

For preschoolers and older children, all too often, going outside, usually only at recess, is just a brief part of their school day.

But a small number of outdoor preschools have been popping up across the country in recent years, following a movement in Europe designed to encourage little children to become more familiar with nature, the Associated Press reports.

The AP wrote an interesting profile of The Cedarsong Nature School in Vashon Island in Puget Sound near Seattle, where preschoolers spend three hours a day on a five-acre forest as their classroom.

The article describes a school day in May: Kids asked questions about leaves and bugs, made cakes out of mud, learned which leaves are edible, climbed trees, and ran around the property.

In a culture of intense pressure for early-childhood educators to prepare kids for kindergarten, Erin Kenny, who opened the Cedarsong Nature School, had some interesting thoughts on what was appropriate subject matter for young children.

She told the AP that at such a young age, children shouldn’t be taught complicated subjects. They shouldn’t be force-fed math or language. She says, in the article, that her students become versed in basic environmental science.

At least two other forest schools have been established—one in Portland, Ore., and another in Carbondale, Colo, the article says.

Dear readers, what do you think of this interesting back to nature approach for preschool?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.