There is a growing sentiment in the green community that kids aren't spending enough time outdoors, which is impeding their ability to do work, stay engaged with school and understand the natural world. Many parents and teachers are now pushing for children to spend more of their education in the outdoors, and the results of pilot programs so far have been promising.
The trend was recently covered by Salon.com, which discussed a study by Indiana State University showing that half of students report having skipped school at least once or twice, while another 20 percent have considered dropping out entirely. And one need not look long to find evidence of an American education system that is long overdue for reform.
With these problems in the forefront for so many American families, it may come as no surprise that teachers are beginning to experiment with new and interesting ways to engage students. One particular idea that has shown promise is the outdoor classroom. Erin Kenny, the founder of outdoor kindergarten Cedarsong Nature School located in Puget Sound, Washington, conducts classes in a 5-acre forest. The students get to see how the ecosystem around them changes throughout the year, observing the growth cycles of plants, bugs and other wildlife.
Most importantly, programs like Cedarsong have been shown to improve motivation among participants, so much so that similar schools have opened up across the country.
Hopefully, as more is learned about these schools and the benefits that they provide to students, more attention will be paid to the importance of preserving the environment for future generations, who have much to gain from these experiences.