It shouldn’t be surprising that kids thrive when they’re outside…but it is. We’re so accustomed to equating class time with education that it’s hard to remember that for most of human history (and all of human prehistory) kids learned their life skills by copying adults and by playing. And they did it, for the most part, out in nature.
You don’t need to pay money to get kids outside. Nature is everywhere, even between the cracks in the sidewalk. But the pre-schools that send kids out to play pretty much all day are having a moment, as Patrick Barkham of The Guardian notes:
This might have remained an obscure industry prize were it not for the fact that, unusually, Dandelion is an outdoor nursery and forest school. My four-year-old, Ted, spends his Dandelion days playing outdoors, in all weathers, in a place where plastic toys are banned and children build their own with real tools.
We noticed such a beneficial impact on Ted that we asked our local primary school to allow another of our children, Esme, to flexi-school and join Dandelion two days a week….
For the past six months, I’ve volunteered a day a week at Dandelion too. This began as book research but it has brought less expected, more important benefits. Young children are the funniest, most enthusiastic colleagues imaginable… And I’ve been surprised how I beam at each day’s end: outdoor learning is good for adult health too.
Think about brochures for vacations. They show palm trees, sunsets, sand. We have come to think of nature as a luxury, but it’s not. It’s the most normal place for our species to be, especially our kids.
So don’t feel they’re “wasting” their time if they go out to play or walk. Think of them as getting a classical education — the kind many parents are willing to pay big bucks for. – L