National Roll on the Ground Day
by Dexter Lane, Nature Explore Consultant
No, not for children, for us adults. We need one. We need at least one day a year when we can get outside, roll in the grass, and get a little dirt on ourselves. Children have their “International Mud Day.” We need one of our own.
We need to do this for ourselves. But more importantly, we need to do it for our children. Exploratory play in nature, the primary learning that’s the basis for all future learning, sometimes gets children a little dirty. If we adults are not comfortable with dirt on our pants and rain on our shirt, what messages are we giving our children?
Why not pair it with Halloween? Fear of ghosts and goblins is natural on Halloween, but an inappropriate fear of Nature isn’t- on any day. Children love getting muddy on International Mud Day.* Let’s show them that we aren’t afraid of getting a little dirt on ourselves.
True story: A grandmother who works in a Nature Explore Classroom was visiting her daughter. Her two-year-old granddaughter stood by the sliding glass doors watching the warm summer rain. “Can I go out?”
“No, dear,” her mother replied, “I don’t want you getting wet.”
The mother’s reaction is understandable, but what unspoken message does it convey? A two-year-old child who hasn’t experienced rain directly (but wants to), might get the message that there’s something bad about being in the rain. Later, she might be hesitant to try the experience of being out in warm summer rain, with all the sensory learning that moment can bring. Through small, unintentional messages such as this, the “naturephobia” we see in today’s older children is born.
The mother probably had no idea that her words could convey that message. But maybe, just maybe, if that mother had participated in an International Roll Around on the Ground Day, the small moment described above might have gone like this:
“Can I go out?”
“Yes dear. But let’s get on our rain clothes.”
All the sensory learning that can be enjoyed by experiencing light summer rain would have begun at that moment. The path of her future learning would have widened, just a bit.
That’s why we adults need a National Roll Around on the Ground Day.