Summary of “The Perks of a Play-in-the-Mud Educational Philosophy”

In a nation moving toward greater standardization of its public-education system, programs centered around getting kids outside to explore aren’t normal.
These muddy explorers stand out at a moment when many American pre-K programs have become more and more similar to K-12 education: row after row of tiny kids, sitting at desks, drilling letter identification and counting.
According to these advocates, a kid who suffers from anxiety doesn’t necessarily need medication, a child who can’t pay attention doesn’t need a computer program to reshape her development, and one who struggles to keep up physically doesn’t need a targeted summer-camp experience to build his muscles.
Give young kids the opportunities to engage in hours of free, unstructured play in the natural world, and they develop just as organically as any other creature.
The hard part is to nail down how much time outside are particularly good for kids-which is to say, what should outdoor education actually look like in practice? Are there particular types of outdoor experiences that kids really need? It’s not clear that anyone knows.
Her small, private program serves mostly “Somewhat more affluent families.” In West Virginia, where the average monthly cost of center-based child care runs around $560, Riverside’s monthly $400 price tag is relatively steep, since that price only gets kids four days of care per week, and just three and a half hours each day.
Well-heeled parents realize, she says, that “This is what’s going to give your kid an academic advantage. This is what’s going to give your kid life success.” She hopes that if “Affluent folks [are] demanding it,” more early education programs will emerge to provide more kids-of all backgrounds-more time outside.
How can-how should-early-education programs balance the competing demands of academic development and outdoor play? Most kids could benefit from more time outside, but it’s hard to imagine that they don’t also need time with interesting, vocabulary-rich books.

The orginal article.