Outdoor play! Grass to roll down, gardens with mint and nibbles to eat as it is all edible, a pit to dig in, rain water to play in, room to run with little hills and slopes, boards and driftwood to balance on….no expensive outdoor play equipment needed!
Dirt is not dirty, rain is for catching in buckets, bugs are most interesting to hold and watch. Have you ever thought about how children’s outdoor play spaces have become cement and sand boxes? How are we supporting the environmentalists of the future if they are not immersed in nature?
If we are outside daily with children, we might as well have a shovel or broom in hand. There is always a corner to plant something new, a spider’s home to discover, a walk way to sweep. Care of the environment is what we can offer the children, inside and out. They are watching and will wish to imitate.Sand boxes were created when science discovered bacteria and it was thought a sand box would be more sanitary than dirt for children to play in. Sure, sand is a lovely substance, wet and dry, but please do not forget to share the wonders of soil with your children. If they don’t see us digging in, who will show them?
The children at LifeWays in Vancouver are nibbling away like little bears at huckleberries, salmon berries and blueberries just now coming. A child will be seen with a mint or lettuce leaf in their mouth and just today, the first pea pod ripened. We have had garden broccoli and cauliflower in our lunches and more to come. The blessings of lots of rain in the north!
If children learn from movement, do look at your play yard. Are there different levels, slopes, rocks or logs to climb. Opportunities of assessing how to move the body will prepare the brain for manuvering through thinking later on. As a young child runs down the small hill, then needs to adjust the gait, posture and foot placement to be able to get level and then go up another small hill, the body and brain are connecting in amazing ways in order to be successful. And falling down is part of the success!
The guidelines for our garden is that a plant is edible, beautiful or smells good and a native variety when possible.
Here are wishes for the children in your care to blos
som from all you create and enjoy in your big outside world.
Margo Running went to Vancouver to set up and coordinate the first Infant-Toddler Program in a Waldorf school that goes to grade 12. She is a director of LifeWays Childcare Society, and a full member of Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America. She is currently enrolled in the ECE BA degree program at Capilano University, and her interests include communication and relationship models as well as sociology and the culture of childhood.