Why teaching kids outside might help them thrive

Schools are turning to this method during the pandemic—and parents can, too.

On a recent sunny December morning, a group of kindergartners from Mangrove School of Sarasota gathered on log benches in a Florida forest to eat lunch. They sat under a wooden hut with a thatched roof, a replica of early-1800s Native American housing that’s part of a local museum exhibit built by Miccosukee tribe members. They’d spent their morning having imaginary snowball fights and pretending to trick-or-treat among the spooky leafless trees.

Their school, a private pre-K-8 school, normally held about 70 percent of instruction outside before the pandemic hit. But recently, the school shifted to being almost totally outdoors. “Parents say their kids come home happy and tired,” says Erin Melia, Mangrove’s director and 8th- and

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