Is it actually important for children to play in nature? How does outdoor play affect their body, mind, and character? Does it give them a better connection to the earth and make them active stewards of its resources? Is that stewardship important to the world?
Many experts would answer those questions positively, and think playing outside is essential for young people: lessening obesity, stimulating imagination and inquiry, calming anxiety, increasing social skills, and developing a conservation ethic that will help protect and manage natural resources wisely. The challenge is to actively present ways to make playing outdoors in the natural world both possible and regular; to encourage that familiarity and love of nature; and to integrate that love and those experiences into the processes of growing up and education.
Everyone recognizes that it’s easier for parents to let their children stay inside – no ticks, no sunburn, no extra vigilance or transportation needed. Even if one supports the importance and relevance of playing outside in nature, how is it possible to get children off their phones and electronic games without a struggle (especially when many parents may be on their own phones much of the day)? How can one expand a child’s early bonding with nature into a growing commitment to the natural world and into an inspiring opportunity for education?
For educators, parents, and adults who care and want something more for children, David Sobel’s discussion, entitled “Wet Sneakers and Muddy Clothes: The Importance of Nature-Based Play and Education,” should give some answers. This free program will take place on Thursday September 14, 7-8:30 PM at the Compass School, 7892 US-5, Westminster, VT. A well-known author, teacher, and nature activist, Sobel will discuss why children need to play outside in nature for their own well-being and for their future stewardship of the earth. He’ll also suggest ways to get children off their devices and out into nature.
David Sobel has written extensively on the topic of children and hands-on education and play in nature. His numerous books – from Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors to Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities and to Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators, plus other works focusing on different age levels – offer parents and teachers insights into the value, appeal, and techniques of outdoor experiences for personal, physical, and social growth. Sobel is on the faculty of Antioch New England Graduate School and has been the director of Teacher Certification Programs there since 1997. His program is presented by the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association; co-sponsored by The Nature Museum, Putney Mountain Association, and Windham Regional Woodlands Association; and supported by the Rotary Clubs of Bellows Falls and Springfield, VT.
Click here for information about other events.