Children In Nature

Last evening, I had the chance to participate in a local radio program, hosted by Maternally Yours, discussing the benefits of getting children out in nature. The show was chock-full of ideas and inspiration for getting your kids off the couch and out in the dirt, so I really want to share it with you. You can listen to the podcast here and read the epilogue here.
This is a topic I have such a passion for, and as a parent I'm always striving to connect my girls with the beauty and wonder of the natural world. On the program, I mentioned the outdoor play space we created in our backyard, and I want to offer a visual to go with that here. 
Our play area is simple - it's just a sectioned off area, covered with straw. In it is a table and chair set made from tree stumps we picked from the curb of a neighbor's house, a play stand/shelves we had in the garage, a small red wagon from a yard sale, some gardening tools, and a stack of thrifted pots & pans.
The rest is up to the imagination... and I've found there is never a shortage of that in this space. Mostly my girls play house here, preparing "food" and working in their "garden." But it also serves as a creature hospital, a bake shop, a doctor's office and more!
They have a water source nearby with our rain barrel. And access to all my garden tools as well, since my potting bench is right next door. And of course, limitless dirt, leaves, twigs, fruits, seeds, rocks...
It never fails to amaze me how focused and contented my respectively dreamy and wild girls are while playing outdoors. It brings me back to my own childhood days of orange-blossom-frosted mud pies and secret clubs in my Florida backyard.
When children have an outdoor space of their own to go to and be themselves, free from adult direction and influence, they have the opportunity to truly blossom. They learn how to solve problems, express themselves, be creative, and develop a deeper understanding of how the world works and what their role is within it. All really great stuff!
 I will be back in this space to elaborate on some other things discussed on last night's show, including how to help your children keep a nature journal and how to incorporate nature into family-centered seasonal celebrations. In the meantime, here are links to the books I mentioned on the air (some of my favorites!)

In what ways do your kids connect with nature? I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
Next Tuesday, Nov. 13, Maternally Yours is offering a free screening and discussion of the film Mother Nature's Child: Growing Outdoors in the Media Age. If you're in the Sarasota area, join us at the WSLR event space and learn more about nature's role in children's health & development.
To find or host a screening in your community, visit here.

1 comment:

amy (mama scout) said...

wonderful! kid need to be outside. i love your tree stumps - we need some of those. a big hit here for awhile was a hole digging area. they dug such a huge hole!