Each week during the spring, summer and fall months (and whenever possible in the winter months as well) we visit the Monarch Woods. It is a beautiful space full of ancient trees, running water, and interesting little insects and creatures. We learn about its secret nooks and crannies, we discover the texture of the mud, and build make shift shelters with huge fallen branches.
Children learn so much through play in nature that simply can’t be fully captured in a classroom environment such as risk management, problem solving, resilience, and social skills. Little ones hone executive functions as they climb trees, leap from rocks, and explore leaves and tiny insects; executive functions are the skills that allow people to complete tasks, make plans, and organize.
“An indoor (or backseat) childhood does reduce some dangers to children; but other risks are heightened, including risks to physical and psychological health, risk to children’s concept and perception of community, risk to self-confidence and the ability to discern true danger.” ― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Beyond the individual benefits that the children experience there is a collective value to learning the importance of nature. We cannot care for the natural world if we don’t learn to love its beauty through hands on explorations. As we teach the children about the little creatures, flowers and trees we foster a love for the world around them which we hope will inspire them to care for it in the future.