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The Outdoor Classroom: "No Child Left Inside"

by Eric Nelson
September/October 2006
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/the-outdoor-classroom-no-child-left-inside/5017140/

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." These words were written nearly 150 years ago by the great American conservationist, John Muir, credited with inspiring the creation of our system of national parks. Muir understood the profound impact being outdoors has on human development. Contrast his words with those of a 4th grader in 2005, " I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are." Those words, one example of a number of disturbing trends, reveal an immense, largely unrecognized challenge facing early care and education.

The consequences of a childhood lost

Childhood today is a dramatically changed landscape, not just from John Muir's day, but from 50, 30, or even 10 years ago. It is not easy to understand just how much conditions have changed without gathering together the individual threads of change and seeing how they operate as a whole to conspire to keep children indoors. In addition to obsession with electronic activity, consider the current push-down of academics into the preschool years, elimination of recess and physical education, an increasing generalized fear of nature and being outdoors, as ...

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