Six of the Many Things We are Thankful For this Season
By Dexter Lane, Nature Explore Writer and Consultant
1. We are thankful for worms.
Have you hugged a worm today? Or fed one? In Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms, the simple worm opens doors to worlds of learning.
2. We are thankful for children.
In outdoor classrooms, children have constant opportunities to discover and experience the physical world in its richest forms. Whole-child learning is at its best in nature. When discovering with others, children build interpersonal skills. When discovering alone, they expand self.
3. We are thankful for teachers.
Teachers, seeing the whole-child development experienced by children in nature, are often transformed themselves. Their own sense of wonder towards the natural world may be expanded or recaptured. Outdoors, they may connect with a child’s sense of wonder more clearly than they can indoors. Their teaching may be enriched from having seen the depths of children’s play and exploration that take place in the outdoor classroom.
4. We are thankful for friendship.
Play based on competition and physical strength, common in traditional playgrounds, is relatively absent from outdoor classrooms. Shared interests unite children who would not otherwise play together meaningfully. Relationships and social skills can be developed from a whole-child perspective. This play is a joy to watch. For many teachers, it’s a relief.
5. We are thankful for transformations.
Transformation is a powerful word, yet no other describes the effects of nature on children as well. Children playing and exploring together with mutual respect, and affection, is hugely transformational.
What if what mattered in children’s group play was not gender, size or strength; but shared curiosities? What if the differences between children’s behaviors we see on playgrounds, and those we see in Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms were carried forward through the school years? What if the lessons learned in these environments were supported both at school and at home? What if nature were to be as integral to schools as traditional playgrounds are today? What if…
6. And we are thankful for YOU!