After years of being all the rage in Scandinavia, outdoor preschools are making a splash in the United States.
I recently wrote about all of this, with a focus on the Fiddleheads Forest School in Seattle, for The Hechinger Report in a story that also appeared in The New York Times. It was a fascinating and fun reporting gig because how often do you get to interview 4-year-olds about their favorite things about school and get answers like: “Running up and down hills”? I also got to kneel down in the dirt, literally, and listen to kids explain to their teachers what they were noticing about an old rotting log or where an earthworm liked to burrow.
The research on the power of outdoor preschools is still emerging. And while initial findings about individual aspects of the schools, like the sheer amount of physical activity kids are likely to get outside as opposed to inside (twice as much), are promising, there have been few comprehensive studies about the differences between indoor and outdoor schools. Skeptics wonder what the point is in doing something outside that can be done just as well inside.
But for the converts, there is no question. Outside is better for everything from health, balance, and energy to self-control and inquisitiveness, they say. One guy in Seattle is even trying to get public preschools to head outside—for every minute of every school day.
And for the kids who attend the programs from Washington state to Massachusetts, it’s even simpler. They just love school. Full stop.
Read the full story on The Hechinger Report and let me know what you think here.
Photo: Fiddleheads students climbing on a wet log near their outdoor calssroom. (Lillian Mongeau/Hechinger Report)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.