Last weekend, in the wee hours of the morning (when my three-and-a-half year old likes to start her day) there was a feeling of wonder in the house. The street lights illuminated the soft, fluffy snowflakes falling outside and my daughter said to me, “Mommy, there’s magic falling from the sky.”
And indeed, the light dusting of snow falling on the autumn landscape was a magical scene. She impatiently waited for me to make my coffee, we dusted off the winter gear, and by 7:30 a.m. we were catching snowflakes on our tongues and making snow angels (the leafy, grassy type) in our backyard.
During an ongoing time of uncertainty, how do we help our children find their roots during a time they may be feeling uprooted? How can we decrease higher levels of anxiety and stress that both our children and ourselves are experiencing? The answer is simple: Go Outside!
On October 21st, Canada celebrates Take Me Outside Day—a day that encourages educators, schools, and parents across Canada to take their students and children outside to learn, play, and connect to their wild backyards.
Nature is one of our most powerful teachers and allies, and at Wildsight, we believe that every day should be Take me Outside Day. Whether you are 3 or 93, we all benefit from spending more time in nature. The body of scientific evidence is compelling. Regular time being immersed in, playing, and learning outdoors in and near nature is essential for healthy childhood development (social, emotional and physical); it decreases the risk of infectious disease spread, and builds resiliency1.
And spending time in nature is good for the environment. There is a saying that goes: ‘People will protect what they love, and love what they know.’ Taking our kids outside and spending time in nature is not only important to their development, it creates a whole generation who will care about the ecological health of the wild places that we call home.
As teachers, parents, and mentors, it can feel daunting to take our children and students outside for learning, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Nature will do the hard work for us, providing endless inspiration. Take a wildlife walk around your school yard or in nearby nature, you’ll be surprised at how many teachable moments pop up. Incorporate math by seeking out patterns in nature. Science and ecology lessons abound while investigating trees, while easy art lessons can be incorporated during nature journaling. For one of the most profound yet simple ways to connect to the natural world, incorporate a sit spot into your daily routine. The wonders of our young learners will guide further exploration and discovery. You can find more inspiration and resources for getting your learners outside here.
So what are you waiting for? This Wednesday, and every day, join other Canadian teachers, parents and mentors in celebrating Take Me Outside Day. All you have to do is step outside and keep things simple. Let nature take it from there.