Early today while lingering in bed over my morning coffee, I came across a wonderful, brief article highlighting Waldkindergarten or Forest Nursery, which originated in Germany. These outdoor schools for little ones bring kids to nature and allow them to freely explore and learn through play. Climbing trees, wading in creeks, turning over rocks and stomping in puddles… the simple joy of nature and connection with our incredibly beautiful and abundant surroundings. Kids learn early-on to disconnect from technology and simply play. I never dreamed I’d see a day in my lifetime where that would be an issue for children – but clearly, here we are.
The best scenario, of course, remains doing this from home, as a family. Yep, tell them to turn it off, put it down, unplug and get outside. No one is exempt, regardless of age (Mom and Dad 😉)! The back yard alone can be quite an adventure on it’s own: vegetable or flower gardening, try sunflowers to dry and feed to the birds, gourds for fun bird houses, or some big round pumpkins for carving jack-o-lanterns. Climb one of those trees (or better yet build a treehouse together as a family project, if you have the skills, to encourage more outside play!) Catch fireflies, or trap and release other insects or small creatures to observe their habits. Let the kids sleep outside in a tent. Follow animal tracks in the snow, or build a snowman. Eat popsicles on the back porch, throw a quilt down and have a picnic, or simply indulge in any number of fun backyard games. If you don’t have a backyard, don’t let that stop you. Take a walk, utilize a local park to hike a wooded trail, go for a drive in the country and take your picnic on the road.
Enjoy your adventures, whatever you choose to do, but don’t miss those learning opportunities along the way. That’s the key. If we love nature, care for our environment, and have regard for the Earth as a whole, our kids will to. From the simple enjoyment, knowledge, and love for our individual surroundings, we can care for this Earth and make the world a better place! As Mother Theresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”