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  • The Stable Company

    I can only echo what’s been said previously and strongly recommend that everyone reads Richard Louv’s book ‘Last Child in the Woods’ which looks at the worrying divide between children and the outdoors.

    There was an interesting article in The Guardian which makes the point that children aren’t ‘feral enough’ and that not enough is been doing to encourage them to explore, think and develop for themselves.

    We’ve been inspired us to add our own thoughts on why more should be done to encourage outdoor learning. It can do so much to not only help children’s education but to help their personal, social, and emotional development too.

  • Gracie Folds

    I attend a Waldorf School. Anyone and everyone who believes in a holistic approach to education should check out the Waldorf philosophy.

  • TreePeople

    It makes such a difference for kids to have playgrounds of nature versus asphalt and chain link fence - we love seeing this happen around the country!

  • Wildwood School

    At Wildwood School in LA, we were also inspired by Richard Louv's "Last Child in the Woods" and included an Outdoor Classroom and Big Yard Woods in our strategic plan for the elementary school. Now, two years later, children make homemade salads harvested fresh from the garden, learn lessons surrounded by the vibrant greens they've helped plant and nurture, and they play amongst trees and natural materials in the Big Yard Woods.
    "How the young respond to nature, and how they raise their own children, will shape the configurations and conditions of our cities, homes—our daily lives."
    —Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

  • Frankle

    I won't argue with your thesis - I'll just say my current favourite is a local built playground - on any nice day it tends to be overflowing with kids splashing in the fountains, playing with the water sluice wheels and gates, the wide slippery dip becomes a continuous cascade of joyful kids and the rope climbing pyramid challenges the 6-9yos to be king of the mountain - very carefully designed to challenge and fascinate while minimising risk of injury - surrounded by parents watchfully ensuring no harm comes to anyone - my favorite spot to experience joy !

    some pix -

    • Sara Gilliam

      That playground sounds amazing and as though it's accomplishing all of the things I touch on in my article. I love a playground with a water feature!

      • Frankle

        yes a design feature is water max depth 2" to avoid drowning risk - plus it has seating for parents all around so every child is constantly watched - a great design and popular as a result.

    • Sara Gilliam

      Thanks for sharing this. I am so blown away by the engaged commenters on this site!

  • anita van asperdt

    The design and implementation of natural playgrounds has been a growing and active movement in western societies. It especially gained steam with the publication of Richard Louv's book "Last Child in the Woods" in 2005. Many educators, landscape architects, designers and environmentalist are part of this global movement to provide healthy and beneficial play environments for children. I moderate on online discussion on the subject through linked-in, we have over 1000 members and the discussion is ongoing, active and extremely insightful. Visit for more information, if you are interested please sign up for the discussion group.

    • Sara Gilliam

      Thanks for sharing. I love this growing movement. I get especially inspired when looking at videos and photos of the forest preschools that are gaining popularity in Europe, particularly Scandinavia. The kids in those schools are so dynamic and creative, not to mention tough!

  • pollard45

    Early childhood classrooms have shifted away from constructivism which supports developmentally appropriate practices (DAP). Engaging children in outdoor exploration is a fantastic approach to (DAP), which actually supports the development of the whole child. I have tried so much to stress education and nature in my child development courses. This article provided me with renewed inspiration.

    • Sara Gilliam

      Your comment made my day. I definitely suggest that you check the Nature Explore web site... There might be an upcoming workshop in your area, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that those workshops will fill you up with several years' worth of inspiration!

    • Sara Gilliam

      Wow. I want to send my son to your camp. That looks incredible. We don't have any options quite so earth/nature-focused here in Nebraska. You've got a great job!

  • ania!

    "Nature Explore" classrooms or other types of natural outdoor areas are missing at many levels of education. Another great organization encouraging kids to get outdoors is the National Wildlife Federation through their "10 Million Kids Outdoors" campaign:

    • Sara Gilliam

      Thanks for sharing, I will check that out! As far as I'm concerned, we can't have too many organizations working to get kids outdoors!

  • Kristin Ford

    I grew up in a rural area. Nature teaches you so many ways at looking at the world, as well as common sense and cause and effect within systems. I now live in the city (in an apartment with no real yard) with my daughter and am so thankful she has a preschool like "good" one described. Natural materials, plants, gardens, even bunnies! They walk around the neighborhood, to parks and have 3 outside visits per day. I wish all city-dwelling parents could give their kids this opportunity. Screen time with expensive gadgets, peer social interaction, or even parenting time can't substitute what kids learn by getting dirty and watching things grow and change in nature.

    • Sara Gilliam

      I so agree with you. I'm the mom of a preschooler with another bambino on the way, and the first thing I want to know about a potential daycare or preschool is, "How much time will my child spend outdoors?"

  • Lou Pizante

    Kids are little explorer scientists discovering their world. Interacting with nature and all the sights, sounds and smells of the outside is critical to the development of their highly active brains.

    • Sara Gilliam

      YES! So many of my teacher friends are seeing the progression through public school of the first generation of kids who have spent FAR more time indoors with electronic devices than outside exploring, playing, etc. WIthout a doubt it has affected development. There are so many ramifications of this... attention challenges, lack of critical thinking skills, social skill development concerns, and so on, not to mention the health and wellness aspects.

      • Maria Dekeersmaeker

        It is very good that kids can find out how good nature is for and to them. Me myself, I published the book 'The Earth has Fever,' now an ebook on In this book, a thriller, the reader is connected with the real meaning of 'mother' earth. And a mother takes always care of her children....Nice article, wonderful initiative.