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'Forest Kindergarten' Creates Controversy

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Is this okay?

Momlogic's Julie: The Waldorf School in Saratoga Springs, NY holds "forest kindergarten," where kids age 3 to 6 spend three hours everyday outside, no matter how cold it is.

According to the New York Times, the classes are based on the teachings of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. The Waldorf School emphasizes the arts and the natural world, with no formal academic curriculum until first grade.

I lived in New York for years, and it is freaking cold there. I cannot imagine sending my three-year-old outside for three hours a day in frigid temperatures, period.

This kind of reminds me of the Russian daycare that pours freezing water on tots while they run around in their underwear -- all to make them "tough."

Do you think this "forest kindergarten" sounds like a good idea, or is it almost abusive to make kids go out in the cold for three hours a day?

8 comments so far | Post a comment now
boo December 1, 2009, 4:02 PM

I think the forest kindergarten is a good thing…when the kids are wearing the right clothes its not a problem to spend 3 hours outside…I was spending most of my time outside when I was a kid and I was never sick on the contrary I don’t have any allergies or anything like it….
the russian daycare with the cold water that kind of behaviour is abusive!

Scandinavian December 1, 2009, 4:54 PM

You think it’s cold in NY? Try Fenno-Scandinavia. Cold air seems to improve schooling results, education lvl, wealth, innovation, etc.


Jenny December 1, 2009, 8:06 PM

I live about 20 minutes from Saratoga and actually was thinking about that school for my child but not anymore. I’m glad you guys had good experiences but in the double digit negatives without a windchill is a bit too cold for my preschooler to be out in the cold.

Laura December 2, 2009, 6:25 AM

This is how school SHOULD BE for children this age.

Jen December 2, 2009, 9:22 AM

Children playing outside 3-6 hours a day is a great thing if the weather permits it. In winter time, where the weather is in the low double digits or in the negatives, there is no way I would send my three year old there. Even with proper clothes, if it’s below 20 degrees Fahrenheit it only takes minutes for any exposed skin to become frostbitten.

Jessica December 8, 2010, 7:59 AM

I think the teachers probably use proper discretion- if the temp. is in the negative double digits they probably limit outside time. I think this is a wonderful way to engage children, my best memories from childhood were of playing outdoors. I thin this is the learning children of this age group should be focused on.

Christine December 14, 2010, 6:54 PM

I don’t think anyone should assume they know how long the children are out in cold or inclement weather. Unless you’ve been there, you just don’t know. I highly doubt these people are endangering children! The teachers are out there with them, so if frostbite were an issue, don’t you think the teachers would be affected too?
I think people should withhold judgement (and decisions about whether it’s the right school for children) until they have ALL the information directly from the source (the teachers, or parents of children who attend)

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 11:37 AM

Interesting information. Good and fun reading. There is one point to offer about tee shirts.

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