Even before the pandemic, “outdoor schools” were seeing major growth in popularity. Now, the trend is showing no signs of slowing down.
What are nature-based preschools?
The number of outdoor schools doubled in 2020, highlighting a growing interest from parents in educating their children outside. These schools put a heavy emphasis on movement and time spent outside with some programs committing to being outside rain or shine.
Many nature preschools spend at least 30% of their day outdoors and also fill the curriculum with nature topics, such as learning about farm ecosystems, responsible forestry, and horticulture.
There is also a lot of movement included in the majority of programs with an emphasis on spending at least a couple of hours a day on physical activity. There are various directories that highlight nature schools in areas across the United States, such as this one from the parenting blog Run With My Child.
Why are nature-based preschools so popular?
Parents have been looking for alternatives to traditional schooling for years, a trend that was only sped up by the pandemic. For example, homeschooling increased by 63% between 2020 and 2021.
Some parents claim that nature schools empower children to learn independence and confidence, while also connecting them more closely with the planet. According to Run Wild My Child, some key points of emphasis include lessons in leadership, imagination, increased spatial awareness, and more.
Outdoor programs are often expensive, so some nature schools are also putting special emphasis on creating more equitable options, like “Redefining the Outdoors,” a program that seeks to create space for families of color, refugee and immigrant families, and children from limited financial backgrounds.
Whether nature schools are right for your child or not, some of the ideas they promote are surely something that many parents would want for their children.
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