Remember the days when playing outdoors was the norm? You’d spend countless hours swinging, playing freeze tag, and drawing giant murals on the sidewalk with chalk. In fact, when it was time for dinner or when it got dark, your mom would practically have to drag you indoors. But these days, we’re lucky to get kids away from their glowing screens and out in the fresh air. But some schools, like Cedarsong Nature School on Puget Sound, Washington, are working to change that.
As part of a growing movement in education to remove the walls and ceiling from the classroom, Cedarsong is the country’s first forest kindergarten. It serves children ages two to six and it holds classes outdoors, even when it’s raining, Salon reports. Students have a nature-based curriculum where instead of being cooped up inside and idly staring at the clock, they’re outside learning about insects and the changing seasons. During recess, they play in the forest. Since its founding in 2007, enrollment has already reached its maximum of 48 families.
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Much-needed sunshine (and vitamin D) isn’t the only benefit to teaching kids outdoors. The article also cites a 2004 study by the State Education and Environmental Roundtable that found that students who are in nature-based learning programs actually perform better academically 72 percent of the time compared to the control group, plus their attendance was  77 percent better, too.
In plein air learning could be the key in keeping students engaged while also giving them a portal to the whole wide world.