It’s almost here — the end of the school year. Can you believe it?!
As summer approaches, so do longer hours of unscheduled time for many children. And while the temptation of structuring every moment is ever-present in today’s society, I would like to encourage you (well me, and pediatricians, child psychologists, and many other experts) to provide plenty of time for good old-fashioned, unstructured outdoor play. Allow for plenty of daily chances for children to be in the driver’s seat, making their own rules, and creating their own stories.
Resist the urge to over-schedule. Resist the urge to hover. Embrace mess and down-time. Let children explore and find their own way out of self-proclaimed boredom.
“Play not only affords children an early source of identity, but is full of useful information about yourself and the world around you,
for once not filtered through adult minds and eyes.” — Libby Brooks (Author)
Here’s the thing: Children have spent the last nine months very scheduled, buttoned-down, and zipped-up. They’ve been tested. They’ve sat. A LOT. And they have listened — to instructions directions, reprimands, and the word “NO”. So this summer, practice saying “Yes”.
I have been a proponent of nature play in and out of school time for twenty years.
But you all know this. I write about the benefits of nature, unstructured play, and reasonable risk for optimal child development all the time. In fact, it’s what The Grass Stain Guru blog is all about.
I stumbled on this lovely and powerful video that explores nature play in three schools in Scotland. It bares mentioning that the narrator states how the UK is far behind European schools embracing nature play. And let it said, the USA is far behind the UK in embracing nature play and reasonable risk for children.
Well, it’s time to play catch up!
Please watch this video for inspiration and ideas to bring nature to your school or center grounds.