Naturalist preschools gain momentum in US (article)

(I am providing a free-to-read link.)

Outdoor preschool is gaining momentum nationwide: Maryland is among the states moving to expand and diversify the naturalist approach to early education (WashPost)

Long common in such countries as Denmark, Sweden and Germany, nature preschools and kindergartens have exploded in popularity in America over the past few years, growing from 250 in 2017 to more than 800 in 2022, based on a forthcoming report from the nonprofit Natural Start Alliance. In the past five years, five states have introduced legislation or established pilot programs to support outdoor learning as an alternative to traditional preschool and child-care programs.


I am not aware of nature based early education programs here – my ever curious boys who struggled to sit still likely would have enjoyed one.

But the weather here can be problematic for the very young (and the very old), so if there were one, I would be curious to see how the program planned for that.


I don’t know how exceptional this is (or isn’t), but my friend’s toddlers attend a nature preschool here in Christchurch, New Zealand, and it sounds like it’s always on regardless of the weather. And it can get pretty cold and dismal here in winter—or any time of year!

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Perhaps cold - with warm clothes and vigourous activity, come in to warm shelter and hot food - is easier to deal with than heat. There is also a social media trend about the health effects of cold (some quietly sensible, and others off the wall flaky!)


In a past life, I studied physical education teacher education. There, we used to say there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.

In many climes I would agree!

But here we are often advised to just not to be out of doors, due to ozone and temperature. It took a moment to find a local English journal but here is one:

April is our hottest month but not at all the only month where the days are routinely above 40. (We also have a rainy season which frequently features tropical storms and often hurricanes, much of which falls during the school year.)

I think it would be beneficial. I just think it would need considerable planning. (Pavilions?)


Yeah, once it’s triple digits (Fahrenheit guy here) it’s just rough to be active outside. Best case is you’re going through a ton of water and sunscreen and only moderately uncomfortable. If you add high humidity to it too, it’s just ugh. Then there’s the odd tornado, lightening storm, etc. I’ve heard the saying “there’s no bad weather, just bad clothes” but as someone who’s lived through hurricanes, tornadoes, etc that’s just bunk. No clothing on earth makes those good. Or hell try being caught out 5 miles into a trail with a sudden hailstorm (OW!).

I like to remind people of that when they’re complaining about sweltering in their t-shirt and shorts.

The article seems to be saying that preschools in the west are having more excursions into natural places. It is impossible to have this arrangement in my area due to mosquitoes and its associated problems. but they probably go to the zoo sometimes. I’d think there is a logistics cost involved in planning such excursions. The cost of hiring a bus, and catering for meals. As such, if the government is willing to offset the cost, then it is ok. I read 80% of the article, it doesn’t mention iNaturalist. Preschoolers shouldn’t be using iNaturalist unless guided by their parents or guardians. Teachers should be teaching children about nature through their own knowledge.

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