Outdoor Life With Children
Helle speaking today,
This summer I traveled the East Coast of USA, teaching child care professionals and kindergarten teachers in outdoor life and learning processes with children.The picture above is from a course I did for kindergarten teachers with wonderful collegues Sigrid D’Aleo and Robin at Sunbridge Institute, Spring Valley, NY State, USA. For the past 6 weeks I’ve also been traveling and teaching in Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania, and I am still traveling as you read this. Meeting so many dedicated people working with children who really want to make a difference in children’s lives, is very touching. It brings me joy and also hope, as I have been dedicated to working for thriving childhoods for more than 30 years. If some of the hundreds of people I have met and worked with these last months are reading along: thank you so much for opening your homes and hearts, for allowing me into your kindergartens, and for your great efforts to arrange all the logistics every place I went and will go.Thank you also for all the positive inspiration, dedication and qualities you bring into the work with me. In this newsletter I want to share some essential thoughts and insights about outdoor life with children, inspired by my recent travel in USA this summer. In the next newsletter in 14 days I will share some more insights from the traveling I am presently doing Down Under.
Back To Nature
Today, more than 50% of the worlds children grow up in big cities. This means that many children today lack a natural connection to nature and have only little access to it. In my home country Denmark only 23% children between 5-12 years spend time outside on a daily basis, compared to 42% of their parents at the same age. However, many people today really want to (re)create a natural connection to nature for themselves and their children, and to embrace the opportunities and benefits of being outside. Most cities have parks, and can certainly be used as recreative spaces, for doing walks, experiencing the seasons, climbing trees, playing, watching animal life, and so on. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a real garden, the possibilities of learning and thriving outside are close to endless. Still many parents and pros around the world face the issue of not quite knowing how to approach the outdoor life. Many feel much more confident in e.g. initiating meaningful activities indoors.
Approaching Outdoor Living With Children
When doing the courses in USA this summer, we did nature walks and trained the quality of being present at the same time. Being outdoors and trying to practice real, heartfelt presence and awareness to where we are and what we are actually doing brings forth some essential aspects, and I want to share 3 of them with you:
- Slowing Down While Walking is a welcoming reminder to many of us. It comes naturally with practicing awareness: it seems natural to really slow down if you want to open up to the world around you.
- Embracing Silence & Practicing Listening and desisting the need of explaining everything to children; children see and experience everything differently and use their senses, feelings and imagination to connect to the world. Leaving the phone at home is a very good start.
- Sparking creativity by using your imagination to find and use the natural ‘habitat’ to create fairytales for children. Open up to creative thinking and use pine cones, oak nuts, little branches, leafs, feathers, stones and so on, all depending on the local nature where you live.
There is much more to be said about outdoor life with children, and so many ways in which we can create a healthy and nurturing environment for our children outside. However, I truly hope that these little insights can inspire you to use the outdoor spaces to live, breathe, learn and thrive with the children in your life. Feel free to comment right underneath and tell us how you spend time outside with children, or ask us any question on the topic you feel like.