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Roots Forest School gets kids learning in the outdoors

"Children are born with this innate desire to learn."

With so much technology now for kids, learning outside is not so commonplace, especially in our schools.

But at Roots Forest School in McCall, kids are doing just that. 

Stephanie Day, the outdoor school’s founder, is leading preschoolers on a learning adventure.

“So we're going to take a little tour, let's walk around the forest," she said.

The school, located in Ponderosa State Park, started in 2014 with just a handful of families, but has grown every year. This year, Day says, six dozen children are enrolled. 

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"To see 72 children out here every week just tickles me. I'm so delighted they're getting that experience,” she said. “[It] doesn't matter what the weather is. Today it's raining, in the winter it will be snowing."

Day said screen time and technology has pushed today’s students farther away from the regular immersion in the outdoors that she grew up with. That’s exactly why she started Roots Forest School,, she said.  

"There's a lot of research showing kids don't go outside, don't play outside,” she said. “Children would prefer to play inside and I think as adults we  think back on our favorite childhood memories… they involve things like mud pies, and mud cupcakes, and playing outside, and climbing trees, and for so many children these days that's missing. So we try and balance that for them, try to provide that space for them so they can do that while weaving in all these other concepts - a lot of social-emotional skills, academics, but we do it outdoors."

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Day said she is happy to see more and more outdoor schools like the Roots Forest School popping up across the country. 

"Children are born with this innate desire to learn, and when we allow that and we give them the time and space it flourishes,” she said. “They want to learn, and we support that out here."

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