Desks, chairs, tests, homework, and classrooms are the traditional components all firmly labeled in our minds as the most obvious and mandatory aspects associated with education. Obvious, yes, but not mandatory.
Recently, you might have seen the news that Washington is the first state in the nation to license outdoor preschools. This model is nothing new in Europe; in fact, Germany alone has over 1,500 “waldkitas” or forest schools. Preschool children spend all day, regardless of weather, outside. Toys or electronics are discouraged and the children play with sticks, leaves, stones or whatever else they find in the parks and forests.
This trend continues with a variety of expeditionary learning schools available for older students. While Outward Bound is the most familiar, many other schools have models that emphasize outdoor education or build in expeditionary weeks/Fridays, as LEADPrep does.
Research has shown that forest school kids have a clear advantage over regular kindergartens and preschools. The kids perform better in cognitive and physical ability as well as in creativity and social development. Schools like this are child-led and play based, with adults as facilitators rather than teachers. No desks, but lots of greener.
At LEADPrep outdoor education is a common theme to many of our activities. Students get the chance to connect with nature, not just technology. Green time, not just screen time! A micro-school can be flexible and make room for this type of learning.
Spending time out in nature is calming and positive for all humans. Strengthening a link to nature benefits students by helping them relax and building habits of leadership. It also helps students connect with their physical environment. Many of our rainbow of different learners, such as students with anxiety or ADHD, experience fewer symptoms when outdoor education is a component of their school. Let’s add more green time learning to our schools!