Let Them Play Outside!
In today’s world of instant rewards and fast paced lifestyles, there are some real issues facing our young children; issues such as a preoccupation with electronics, lack of exercise, and a basic loss of connection with nature. Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods, writes about a generation of children suffering from “Nature Deficit Disorder,” a phrase coined by Louv acknowledging that human beings, especially children are spending less and less time outdoors, as a direct result of moving away from more physical experiences in the natural world to solitary activities like watching television and playing video games.
This is why I believe it is so important for the well-being of our children that they are offered as many opportunities as possible to interact with nature. When I think back to my own childhood, I have very fond memories of playing outdoors for hours on end - playing in the dirt, making mud pies, and rolling in the grass! These were indeed very iconic images of childhood when I was growing up, and even to this day, I can still vividly remember the experience. We are now charged with the responsibility of creating these experiences and making memories for our children. What is it that we want them to remember? I do not believe that the time spent interfacing with some form of technology would be our first thought when trying to answer that question. I would imagine we all would like our children to have amazing memories of playing outside and creating their own little worlds of wonder!
Some adults may question if there are any benefits to outdoor play, beyond the actual physical exercise. Some parents also might ask what is the correlation between outdoor experience and educational success.
Let me share with you some learning advantages children receive when interacting with nature:
• Make connections
• Gain a sense of wonder and engagement
• Cultivate a sense of place & self
• LEARN how to problem solve
• Find their own rhythm
• Test their boundaries
• Think creatively
• Actually build stronger immune systems
• Ability to use their OUTSIDE VOICES!
Children are inherently curious about the world around them and here at Miss Lee’s we are constantly giving them opportunities to expand that curiosity. Most recently, the children were engaged in a seed-growing project, which took them to the school's greenhouse. This project helps them to make connections in the growing process and sparked great questions on growing in the greenhouse versus their classrooms. Along with this project, we will have our first Preschool gardening day; which will give students a chance to explore, engage, and connect more with nature. They will have the opportunity to plant their greenhouse seedlings, decorate step stones, explore a worm farm and just play in the dirt! We continue our efforts to help develop the whole child and strive to counterbalance the effects of “Nature Deficit Disorder.”
David Polis writes:” Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.”
Head of Preschool