January 11, 2013
Happy New Year to All! We have had an excellent week, watching creativity unfold with art projects like bubble printing and Matisse Collages while baking yummy things in the morning—banana bread, corn bread and basmati rice.
I was reminiscing yesterday and talking with Miss Doreen about my trip to the Santa Fe Waldorf School. After snack, the children were excited to go to the park. There were swings and a slide. They played there for about forty five minutes. Then they went to an arroyo, as they call it in Sante Fe. In Massachusetts we call it a ditch. The children there enjoyed running uuuuup then dooooown the sides of the arroyo. They would scream and laugh with feeling a little reckless and playful. They looked at large icicles hanging from the branches. Some broke the icicles off and let the tips drip into their mouths. The group as a whole was calm, exploring their surroundings, in awe of all that nature provides. I was in awe at how the children were so delighted about being in this little space. Nobody said they were bored. Nobody whined that they were cold. Nobody said “Can weeeeee goooooo nooooow?” It was so simple. And wonderful. Children being children.
And when I was verbalizing all this to Doreen, I realized the stark contrast of the play experiences—that of the playground with fabricated equipment and then the natural landscape and all it has to offer.
We cannot underestimate the value of being outdoors. I’m not talking about a twenty minute “recess”. I’m talking about lengthy periods of opportunities to explore—being curious of what’s under that rock…can I even move that rock? Children testing their limits…how high could I climb in that tree? If I step on this wobbly log, will I fall?
There are programs popping up all over the states and in Europe called “Forest Kindergartens” where children are outside for 3 ½ hours in the morning. They play, have circle time and lessons, and eat snack—all outdoors even in December. Brrrr. A program in Austrailia, called “Bush Kinder” says it like this: “No toys,
No tools, No art supplies. The children and adults benefit from using only what nature has provided.”
We believe that this type of learning, this type of immersion in nature provides so much more than learning abc’s, shapes and numbers ever can. Besides, you’re only a kid once. Sand cakes and crawly things will only hold their magic for so long….
Have a great weekend,