The Key to Better Students Is Getting Them Outside

The best schools know that kids learn when their noses aren't shoved in textbooks all the time

Infants show ability to tell friends from foes

The results offer a new window into humans’ earliest understanding of the social world around them and suggest that even nine-month-old infants can engage in reasoning about whether the people they observe are friends.

Forest Schools and environmental attitudes: A case study of children aged 8–11 years

Increased contact with nature is seen as an integral and vital component of education, particularly in early years settings where Forest Schools are being introduced. Since the eighteenth century, pioneers of early education, namely Froebel, Montessori and Steiner, have valued the outdoors and recognized the importance of contact with nature, with particular reference to learning through active, hands-on play (Constable, 2012).

Stanford researchers show we’re sending many children to school way too early

“We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73% for an average child at age 11,”

Into the Woods: Outdoor and Nature-based Preschools in Seattle, the Eastside and Tacoma

Still, interest in outdoor preschools has been growing for decades. The concept took shape in the 1950s in Sweden and Denmark; in Germany in 1968, which is now home to hundreds of “forest kindergartens”; and more recently in the United Kingdom. In these schools, children spend almost all of their preschool day outdoors.

Outdoor Schools Open Up New, Affordable Adventures In Learning

More than half of U.S. preschoolers don’t go outside to play even once a day, according to a Seattle Children’s Research study. When children aren’t outside, Kenny says, their connection to nature withers. Young children today recognize hundreds of corporate logos, but few can identify more than a handful of plants and animals in their own backyard. Kenny’s students are different.

Outdoor Preschool Shows Wild Side of Learning

"I have a very different philosophy about what preschoolers need," Kenny said. "I think in America we believe preschools need to learn letters and numbers to get a jump-start on their education when they enter public school. However the studies in Germany show just the opposite that the children perform better on standardized tests when they enter the public school system."

Personality traits ‘contagious’ among children

"Parents spend a lot of their time trying to teach their child to be patient, to be a good listener, not to be impulsive," Durbin said. "But this wasn't their parents or their teachers affecting them -- it was their friends. It turns out that 3- and 4-year-olds are being change agents."