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Milwaukee's Tamarack Waldorf School putting big bets on outdoor education

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Posted at 5:29 AM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 22:09:10-04

MILWAUKEE — Nov. 4 is National Outdoor Classroom Day. We found a Milwaukee school where they believe nature and nurture go hand-in-hand.

The Tamarack Waldorf School has always believed in outdoor education, but their outside time has gone even further up in the pandemic. One administrator estimates the kids spend 50 percent of their time outside.

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The school used pandemic relief funds to purchase equipment, like camping stools and backpacks, for every kid. Educators believe behavior is better and attention is stronger with the amount of fresh air the children get. And it's not just recess. They hold entire lessons, like writing and science, outside.

Milwaukee's Tamarack Waldorf School putting big bets on outdoor education

One 5th grade student told us that he and his friends laugh all the time outside and have figured out ways to stay creative and not get bored. Another says he enjoys the fresh air. The Tamarack Waldorf School believes all educators can use this model, even to a smaller extent.

"Any school, any teacher can have a backpack, a camping chair, a clipboard and be outside. The proof is in the pudding, look at the children," said Kim Bair, 5th grade teacher.

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"I believe there was a district in Texas that actually doubled their recess time outdoors and saw their referrals to the office go down by half," added Dorothy Kulke, enrollment and outreach coordinator for Tamarack Waldorf.

Tamarack Waldforf is located on a busy corner of Brady Street. They have no outdoor green spaces of their own, but they utilize parks around them. It won't be long before they return outdoors, no matter the season or what mother nature might throw their way. They go outside year-round.

"Hardy is the word. We are of hardy stock, all we need are our rain boots and raincoats and we're outside," said Bair.

The school recently hired a part-time environmental educator to help them plan further outdoor activities, like trash pickup and urban gardening.

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