The Stories You Loved in 2019
December 23, 2019
In 2019, the nature-based early learning movement, along with the community of professionals that make this movement possible, continued to grow.
This year, the value and popularity of the nature-based preschool model was recognized by many noteworthy media outlets, including stories from The New York Times, Medium, Quartz, The Conversation, and REI.
We reflected on the topics and trends that engaged you the most this year, from play-based policy to the latest research. Take a look back at the stories you loved in 2019:
Advocacy & Policy:
- Schools across the country continued to advocate for longer recess and play-based curriculum, especially in kindergarten and primary grades.
- Lawmakers in Minnesota approved a new grant program, No Child Left Inside, which helps schools and community groups fund outdoor field trips.
- As a part of the Outdoor Preschool Pilot Program, Washington became the first state in the U.S. to license preschools that take place outdoors.
“Please, put the garden back in kindergarten.”
-Dave Van Manen, founder, Earthkeeper Nature Preschool
Benefits of Time Spent in Nature:
- Research out of Wales showed that as little as an hour a week of outdoor learning has tremendous benefits for children and also boosts teachers’ job satisfaction.
- In collaboration with Project WILD and Chicago Botanic Garden, the Natural Start Alliance created a video on the benefits of nature-based early learning.
- A critical research review published in Frontiers in Psychology found that experiences with nature are associated with higher academic achievement and positive peer relationships.
“It’s time to take nature seriously as a resource for learning.”
-Ming Kuo, Ph.D, University of Illinois
- The World Health Organization released screen time guidelines for young children, recommending that children between the ages of 2 and 4 have no more than one hour of "sedentary screen time" each day.
- Aarhus University in Denmark published a study connecting time spent in nature as a child with better mental health in adulthood.
- Researchers in Hong Kong found a way to measure nature connectedness and found that children with a stronger connection to nature had less stress, less hyperactivity, and fewer behavior and emotional difficulties.
"The effect is remarkable. If we were talking about a new medicine that had this kind of effect the buzz would be huge, but these results suggest that being able to go for a walk in the park as a kid is just as impactful."
-Kelly Lambert, Ph.D, University of Richmond
- In response to growing demand for public preschool options in Durango, CO, but without any additional classroom space, the school district opened its first forest preschool class, where students spend 90-95% of their time outdoors.
- Teachers at Old Town Elementary School wanted to do more for their students, leading to a partnership with the University of Maine. The University now collaborates with the school to offer regular opportunities for outdoor learning and teacher professional development.
- Children enrolled in Holland Christian’s Forest Kindergarten are exceeding academic expectations, gaining local and national attention for the program’s success.
"I really think that [Forest Kindergarten] is for every child. Every American school should consider it."
-Ron Harig, forest kindergarten teacher, Holland Christian School
- “The Ultimate List of Diverse & Inclusive Books to Support Nature-Based Learning,” created by Wonderkin, was shared over 600 times on Facebook.
- Many of you loved Cassandra Ellis’s “Slow It Down” infographic (right), which shares seven tools for caregivers of young children.
“When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.”
-Rudine Sims Bishop