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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET only infrequent forays into preschool and kindergarten. My focus turned to the emergent practice of place-based education, using the fabric of local natural and cultural places as the warp of the curricu- lum in schools. It has been rewarding to see hundreds of independent, charter, magnet, and inspired public schools take up the mantle of place-based education and forge an approach to teaching that assures academic achievement through engagement in real-life problem solv- ing on school grounds, in neighborhoods, in their communities. John Dewey’s vision of schools as “laboratories of democracy” is thriving in many of these schools. On the other hand, the No Child Left Behind movement, the compulsive descent into high-stakes testing, and the resurgence of mind-numbing didactic teaching in too many public schools has been disheartening. It’s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Where did all these aliens come from who have inhabited the bodies of super intendents and administrators and turned them into mindless drones? What happened to good old-fashioned developmentally appropriate, child-centered education? While the body snatchers have been taking over public school- ing, nature preschools and forest kindergartens have been growing in the shadows. Nature preschools, often housed at nature centers, put an emphasis on engaging children with the natural world, hav- ing them outside about 50 percent of the day, and balancing this with a progressive early childhood indoors curriculum. Forest kindergar- tens are even more committed to children being outside—often 75– 100 percent of the day—and put more emphasis on social-emotional and physical development. As stated earlier, they’re both enjoying a growth in popularity. And even though the body snatchers are mak- ing relentless headway in taking the fun and play out of kindergar- ten, preschools are still somewhat free of the scourge of downward creeping academics. It’s still accepted pedagogy, strongly supported by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, to believe in the value of play-based learning. And more and more early childhood educators are recognizing the benefit of open spaces, fresh air, and natural world play in creating the “readiness to learn” that all kindergarten and first grade teachers know is the crucial foundation for schooling. I hope you’ll join the movement to reconnect children with the natural world in early childhood. This early bonding experience with nature can serve as a foundation for environmental values and behav- iors as children mature into responsible adults. Introduction COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 1 3