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Potential inclusion of outdoor preschool in state funded programs


Outdoor preschool education is increasing, particularly in the United States where it has been less common than in some other countries. Proponents claim a variety of benefits from the approach, including that it allows children to explore and play in nature much more than in traditional classrooms. In the context of a pandemic with high rates of indoor transmission, outdoor preschool has an obvious additional appeal. However, few outdoor preschools in the United States are licensed or meet regulatory standards that permit them to receive public funding from either child care subsidy systems or state funded preschool programs. Outdoor preschools differ from traditional indoor programs in ways that require significantly different regulatory standards. Based on a pilot program, the state of Washington recently developed standards for licensing outdoor preschools. Washington’s standards offer a model for other states and provide insights into key issues for including outdoor preschool as an option for state-funded preschool and subsidized child care. (author abstract)

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