First Outdoor Preschools in the Country Now Licensed in Washington
If recess was your favorite part of school, these outdoor preschools would have been your paradise. Outdoor preschools might soon become a nationwide trend, as Washington has just become the first state in the country to grant them an official license. Tiny Trees Preschool is one such preschool, with kids gathering outdoors instead of inside a classroom. School sessions take place entirely outdoors from September to June, rain or shine.
Hannah Kinney, teacher at Tiny Trees, said, “There’s a beauty in being able to see kids run outdoors and look at slugs and take care of plants and animals. You do see students that need that space to move their bodies and feel like they have that choice and ownership of their learning.”
According to The Seattle Times, Kinney believes that outdoor classes encourage students to consider their relationship with nature, stay in better touch with their feelings and emotions, and get more creative with their space.
In 2017, Washington developed official requirements for an outdoor preschool to become licensed, though until recently, no outdoor preschools had obtained licensure. One important criterion states that there must be one teacher for every six kids, ensuring that the children are properly supervised.
Parents are embracing the alternative learning method. Parent Nika Cull, whose daughter attends Tiny Trees, said, “My kids have the rest of their lives to sit in a chair and listen to someone talk. Childhood is so limited for things like playing and climbing trees and going on hikes. There’s so much foundational importance interwoven into these activities…and it just lets them be kids for as long as they can.”
When it rains, a canopy is erected to keep everyone dry. But at Tiny Trees, the kids don’t seem to have any qualms about playing in the rain.