New innovative preschool opens its doors, only there are no doors

One of the rainiest fall seasons on record, and a pretty frigid winter so far around the northwest.

But the harsh weather is not stopping an innovative new preschool that uses the great outdoors as a classroom.

Tiny Trees Preschool created a partnership with Seattle Parks, and utilizes several area parks to allow kids to explore their surrounding in trees, and on trails.

"Preschool is the perfect time for children to be learning in this natural space," said Katherine Miller, the lead teacher for a class in Camp Long in West Seattle.

All outdoor preschools may be relatively new in Seattle, but it's a concept that has been around for years in  Europe, and originated in  some of the coldest spots in Scandinavia.

Teachers say the cold is no real problem as long as parents remember to dress their kids in layers. The students wear thermal wear, and the school provides full body rain suits and boots. The kids seem in constant motion which also helps keep them warm.

The students may be spending their days playing out doors, but they are still learning similar lessons that they would inside a building.

"They’re learning in this hands on way and a lot of times they don’t even realize they’re learning patterns, and they’re learning numbers or counting," said Miller. "All those kindergarten readiness skills are there, they’re just doing it naturally outside."

Learning outside also saves on tuition costs. Staff say parents pay nearly half of what they would at a typical brick and mortar pre-school.

Organizers believe this is the start of a trend in early teaching. There are now more than 200 outside preschools across the country, and Tiny Trees plans on expanding around Seattle and on the east side next year.

And it may have another benefit.

In a world where technology keeps more and more kids couped up inside on screens, the chance to wander around the woods, and climb trees, could also lead to a lifelong love of the great outdoors.