Growth of Nature-Based Preschools Helps Get Kids the Outdoor Time They Need
Seattle is infamous for its weather. It may not have sunny skies all the time, but that doesn’t stop Seattleites from getting outside.
It’s especially important for children to get outdoors and play, and studies show that’s just not happening enough. One study out of the UK found that children spend 50% less time playing outside than their parents did, and it’s even been termed ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’.
The benefits of outdoor play are numerous and well-documented. Here are ten scientifically-backed reasons to get your child outside more:
- Children who play outside more are less prone to obesity and the problems associated with it
- Outdoor play is shown to reduce the symptoms of ADHD
- Fine and gross motor skills are more advanced in children who spend significant time outside
- Standardized test scores are higher for children in schools with outdoor classrooms and other forms of environmental education (not that we care about standardized test scores, but we’ll save that for another post)
- The more time a child spends outside, the more apt he or she is to develop a relationship with nature and to work to care for and preserve it
- No lie – eyesight can improve – children who spend at least 76 minutes outside daily can see up to a 50% reduction in myopia (nearsightedness)
- Your child is less likely to engage in bullying when she or he has enough outdoor time
- Children who spend significant amounts of time outdoors score better on concentration and self-discipline tests
- Your child’s creativity flourishes outside and they improve problem-solving and negotiation skills when left to work out problems with their peers
- Awareness, reasoning, and observation skills are all better in children who have significant time to be outdoors
With all of these amazing benefits, it’s no wonder we’re seeing more nature-based preschools pop up across the country, and Seattle is no exception.
The Great Outdoors
As you would expect, nature-based preschools, also referred to as outdoor or forest schools rely on the environment for learning. Some programs don’t have a brick-and-mortar location and 100% of the time is spent outside, while others may be in the 50%-90% range. Often half-day programs, these preschools are play-based and the great outdoors becomes the classroom. Fear not, your children will still be learning reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, and pre-k is offered at several nature schools around town.
Winding Willow in Shoreline, WA incorporates both a nature-based approach and Waldorf-inspired education. Their flexible schedule includes 2-5 day programs from 9:00-1:00, 11:00-3:00, or 1:00-5:00. Summer camp is also available for children ages 3-9. Director Aureole Lopez Shulman says “We go outside twice a day and in all weather… The woods and the garden are our playgrounds.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Tiny Trees Preschool has nine locations throughout the city serving children ages 3-5 with half day AM and PM Schedules. Their summer camp runs July-August for kiddos ages 4-6. For more information, contact the admissions office at email@example.com.
Search Paper Pinecone for more Seattle-area nature preschools and get those kids outside.
Paper Pinecone is a comprehensive directory of preschool, daycare, and before and after school programs.
Stacey Grumet is Founder and CEO of Paper Pinecone, the most useful resource for connecting with daycare, preschool, and before/after school programs that meet your needs. She lives in Los Angeles with her perfectly adequate husband and precocious 3-year-old daughter (as of this writing). Every day she strives to be the world’s most okay mom.