David Sobel, core faculty at Antioch University New England’s (AUNE) Department of Education and a national expert in nature-based education, recently released his eighth book touting the importance of nature in our increasingly digitized world. Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens: The Handbook for Outdoor Learning is a guide for understanding and implementing outdoor and nature-based learning as educators and parents become more aware of its importance in early childhood development and education.
“Academic achievement is important, but the sole function of a school shouldn’t be to turn out good test-takers,” said Sobel. “Students need to explore their communities and environments so they develop context and understand the world around them to become thoughtful, impactful and civic-minded leaders.”
The book was published and released in October of 2015 by RedLeaf Press. It includes research and commentary from five fellow education experts and walks readers through the roots of nature-based education and the recent resurgence of such programs in North America. More than a history lesson, Sobel and his colleagues provide the framework for building an early childhood learning community that stimulates curiosity and inquisitiveness in a natural environment, as well as the nuts and bolts of running a successful nature preschool/forest kindergarten business.
According to John Flicker, president emeritus of the National Audubon Society, “this book will change how you think about early childhood. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in connecting children to nature.”
Sobel, who received a BA from Williams College and a MEd from AUNE, has spent the last 40 years working in the field of child development, place-based education, and parenting with nature. He co-founded the Harrisville (NH) Children’s Center, and has served as a publicly elected school board member in both Nelson and Harrisville, New Hampshire. He has served as a staff development and science curriculum consultant to schools in New Hampshire and Vermont and specializes in developmentally appropriate environmental education, place-based education, inquiry science, map making with children, cognitive development and developmental theory, school improvement, children and nature, and parenting with nature. He is the author of Place-based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities and many articles on children and nature. In 2007, he was identified as one of the “Daring Dozen” educators in the United States by Edutopia magazine, and expertise and passion earned him a place as one of the “gurus and rock stars of environmental education” by Teacher magazine.