Gifts of Nature
Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own)
~ Richard Louv
I would rather see children with a handful of compost or mud than with their hands wrapped around an iPad or telephone and staring at the screen. When I think of childhood, I don’t think of screens. I think of getting dirty every day from playing outside, digging in the dirt, swinging, monkey bars, rolling down a grassy hill and discovering it isn’t as easy as it looks, watching ants, climbing trees catching lizards and frogs and being a little surprised and maybe scared of some of nature’s wonders. The distance learning phenomena taking place across the country is becoming dangerous to children’s healthy development. Screens and one-dimensional learning are not capable of meeting children’s intrinsic needs through the sensitive periods. As the adults who influence much of their growing years, we have to be very careful and conscientious to not let the seductive attraction of the screen impede and steal the natural environment from our on-site and distance learners. Virtual distance learning will never replace real experiences children have on playgrounds, in gardens, on hikes and other outdoor nature studies. Students may visit nature on a National Geo app, but a one dimensional view will never replace the sensorial experience of being “in” nature. Maria Montessori told us this this in 1948, before the virtual world came to be:
There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving. ~ Maria Montessori
It just makes sense! Children need to be in nature to satisfy their deep inner curiosity and feed their imagination. Outdoor studies teach children to appreciate nature’s beauty, natural life systems and the inter-connectedness of all living things. Nature develops children’s sensitivity and responsibility to something larger than themselves. In developing ecological literacy through experiences in nature, children can be agents of change and ultimately transform their communities. Imagine the impact to our world!
Our work is more important now than ever. Experiential learning, nature studies, connection to life’s natural systems, order, and beauty, children need all of this. They also need us to never stop inviting them away from the temptation of screens to the more intriguing and inspiring outdoors!