Many times during my teaching career, my philosophies and methods have been challenged. My favorite to discuss, is outdoor play and why it is a necessity.
Gross-motor play. This is where they have the freedom to learn how to run, climb, throw, kick, traverse uneven ground, and go through, over and under obstacles. Exercise is an absolutely vital piece of their physical and mental state. With the rise of childhood obesity, diabetes, ADHD, and depression, being active outside needs to become a priority.
Fine-motor play. Encouraging children to get messy with mud, water, and nature's loose pieces, is so beneficial and necessary. Their creativity flourishes when able to experience nature with all of their senses - touch, scent, hearing, movement, and yes, even taste. By building sandcastles and forts out of sticks, their hands are strengthened and become more ready for the structured side of education, such as writing.
Collaboration. If I could teach my children only one thing, it would be how to work with one another. Even when it's hard, and compromise is necessary. Being in the open air without direction can be so hard for these young humans, as they all want to be a productive piece of their class, yet there are no rules or guidelines as to how when outside the classroom walls. Budding with ideas and heavy with motivation, they must work together to create what they envision. This is where I as their teacher, try to step back and allow this to unfold without adult intervention. We are trying to create productive members of society, and they must discover for themselves what techniques work, and which fall flat.
Self-regulation. Often Ms. Megan and I find predictable rhythms within the children's activity levels. For the first hour, the children are often running, screaming, kicking and throwing. And then their bodies begin to regulate when they realize they cannot continue that rate of energy output. This is why I think it is so incredibly important that children have outdoor time before they are asked to preform any traditional school work. First thing in the morning, they have not found their sense of self-regulation. When given that time, it can create more in depth learning cycles.
Care for their environment. This generation must learn how to care for our planet to preserve the human race. We must guide them in how to grow, care for, and use our most natural resources. They must be taught to dispose of used things in the most sustainable way, and how to make conscious decisions as to the materials they're willing to bring into their space.
(Playground clean up)We spent close to the entire week outdoors, and I am absolutely satisfied with all that my children learned, and experienced.
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