"German Tots Learn to Answer Call of Nature"

Boyd

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Jul 31, 2004
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Very interesting article from today's Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120813155330311577.html?mod=todays_us_nonsub_page_one

This link may expire, so in a nutshell, the article describes the German "Waldkindergärten" ("forest kindergarten") movement, where kids attend outdoor kindergarten class in the woods instead of a classroom. Here are some quotes...

Academic studies of such schools are in their infancy. Some European researchers believe Waldkindergärten kids exercise their imaginations more than their brick-and-mortar peers do and are better at concentrating and communicating. Despite dangers, from insects particularly, the children appear to get sick less often in these fresh-air settings. Studies also suggest their writing skills are less developed, though, and that they are less adept than other children at distinguishing colors, forms and sizes.
"It's peaceful here, not like inside a room," said Ms. Kluge, who has headed the Waldkindergarten since it opened five years ago.

The children rarely venture into a trailer in the forest that's used as a shelter in extreme weather. Ms. Kluge says no child has ever asked for a toy. The children improvise instead with what the woods have to offer. And there haven't been any bad accidents beyond the occasional scrapes and bruises.

Not everyone has a feel-good experience. Frankfurt resident Donna Parssinen sent her son to a Waldkindergarten last year but says he got Lyme disease from ticks. It resulted in meningitis that temporarily paralyzed half his face. "I still like the idea" of Waldkindergärten, says Ms. Parssinen, "but once is enough." Her son now attends a four-walled kindergarten.
Among the nature-based activities, children learn how to handle a real saw. "A plastic saw is no good," says Ms. Johnson. "You might as well give them a plastic life." The worst that has happened thus far to the children is the occasional bee sting, she says.
Iwao Uehara, a professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture, says he has been trying to set up such a school in Japan, but the project is struggling. Until there's evidence that Waldkindergärten graduates end up attending "famous universities," it's going to be a tough sell, he says.
 

Teegate

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I just don't see that happening in this country. Parents here would not stand for that, and the lawyers would have a field day if they acquired Lyme as one there did.

Guy
 

LARGO

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Dead on Guy. Some people like to think they're down with it, but on the whole, the masses here just would make a mess of this and it would be a lawered up nightmare along with fees and contingencies out the A**.
Today's parents as a whole, no way.

g.