Nature Preschools in the United States: 2022 Survey
Preschools in which children play and learn outside for the majority of the school day—called nature preschools—are continuing to rapidly expand across the United States, according to Natural Start’s newest report, Nature Preschools in the United States: 2022 Survey.
Today, there are an estimated 800 nature preschools in the United States, up more than 200% from 2017, and more than 300% since the programs began rapidly expanding just after 2010. The report indicates that in the 2022–23 school year, there were an estimated 800 nature preschools in the U.S. serving 25,600 children.
- Access to and participation in nature preschools is not equally available to all children.
- Children who are Black or Latino are less likely to enroll in nature preschools.
- White children are more likely to enroll.
- This trend has not significantly improved since 2017.
- The racial and ethnic makeup of educators in nature preschools reflects that of the children.
- Licensing outdoor preschools can bring more public funding to outdoor education and help level the playing field for families.
- More research is needed to explore strategies for increasing diversity in nature preschools.
- The Natural Start Alliance advocates for:
- Licensing outdoor preschools.
- Increased support for professional training and networks for nature-based educators.
- Nature preschools serve as examples of effective early childhood nature-based education.
- Continued growth in nature preschools can shift our systems and bring the benefits of nature-based education to all children and programs.