Sen. Kevin Ranker’s bill to allow for outdoor preschools was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee today with supporters, teachers and children in attendance.
“I am very excited to create this opportunity to license full-time outdoor preschools, allowing children to learn and explore in the environment around them,” Ranker said. “This program will help children get outside at an early age, letting them learn and thrive outdoors while preparing for their future.”
Based on a Scandinavian model, outdoor preschool educators lead children through exploration and hands-on learning for hours a day, entirely outside. The pilot puts these in-demand programs in Washington on track to offer full-day programs and expands access to families that might not be able to afford outdoor preschool.
“Outdoor preschools are also a great way for families struggling to afford childcare to get their children into the outdoors with exceptional science and early education. This program sets children on a path to enjoy science, exploration learning and become stewards of the environment,” said Ranker.
Outdoor preschools participating in the pilot will be able to:
• Offer full-day classes, which are important for working families
• Expand access to affordable, high-quality early learning programs for children in poverty and families with lower incomes.
• Provide more data on the benefits of outdoor, nature-based classrooms for Washington’s children and families.
The pilot project runs from August 2017 through June 2021.
“This ground-breaking legislation is an important moment for families in Washington State and beyond,” said Heidi Bruce, parent and founding board member of the Orcas Island Forest School. “In our increasingly digitized culture, we see tremendous value in providing children a nature-immersed learning experience outside of that momentum.”