Outdoor Nursery School: Would You Send Your Kid?

Suzanne Murray
16
kid in tree

Photo by teacupsmommy

Would you send your kid to a nursery school where the children spend three hours a day outside no matter what the weather?

Some parents are doing just that in Saratoga Springs, New York. The school is called a "forest kindergarten," and it's part of a Waldorf school curriculum for 3- to 6-year-olds.

 

Waldorf schools, founded in the early 1900s, are based on the teachings of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner—they're media-free and emphasize the arts and the natural world. While most Waldorf schools do include outdoor learning time, the forest kindergarten in Saratoga Springs is an extreme version, where the kids go outside for three hours even if it's down-pouring, freezing, or snowing.

Lots of schools are starting to get kids more involved in the outdoors by planting gardens or going on nature field trips—and I think that's a good thing. I try to give my two-year-old a daily dose of nature, and while I have taken her on warm-weather hikes when it's drizzling and out to play in the snow, I'm not sure I want her to be forced to stay outside for three hours in severe weather conditions, especially at this age. Yet, the kids featured in the New York Times article seemed to be enjoying themselves. Full disclosure: My daughter attends a Waldorf pre-school, but not the extreme outdoor kind (yet).

How about you? Would you want your toddler to be forced to be outside in the freezing cold for hours?

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