This week’s blog post is written by Kim Norman, who will be entering her 6th year as an eco-counselor at HDT for this summer. For more information on Kim you can watch Kim’s introduction video. Head on over to our main page for more information on HDT summer programming,
Last summer I began a mission to grow in my children a love for the outdoors. We are not adventurous in the realm of camping or hiking, but merely enjoy exploring the world outside our back door. In my seeking, I have come across a handful of books that are on my reading list.
Currently, two books have had a profound influence on me. I am a parent, but also an educator. I strive to communicate to parents the importance of unstructured play. I am adjusting my approach to include more physical movement and outdoor play to raise more confident, resilient, and healthy children.
The first title, “Balanced and Barefoot” is written by Angela J. Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook (a nature-based developmental program). She describes, in easy to read terminology, the importance of unstructured, physical play. She moves beyond the playground and focuses on the need for children to challenge their bodies and engage the body and senses. She also examines how bodies grow and how a child’s environment can impact that growth. Active play is critical, and outdoor play is therapeutic.
Hanscom wraps up with tips on how to get children to play creatively and move beyond boredom. She writes, “If your children are walking around aimlessly, let them. If they are seated and quietly looking at something, let them. Sometimes what we have in mind as ‘play’ looks different than what children consider play.” Simply step back, observe from a distance, and watch what transpires.
The most recent book I’ve loved is “There’s No Such Things As Bad Weather” by Linda Åkeson McGurk. McGurk grew up in Sweden and moved to the U.S. to attend college. She is married and has two children. When her father falls ill, she returns to Sweden for a time with her daughters.
The book is a reflection on her childhood and the impact the Scandinavian culture has on health, development, and appreciation for the environment. This book is really a call-to-action for parents. Her main goal: embrace the weather, dress for it, and find the joy in being outside.
At the end of the book, McGurk writes, “Help build a village of support for outdoor play in your child’s life by seeking out like-minded people…” If your school, daycare, or circle of friends need some encouragement, there are several additional recommended reads listed throughout “There’s No Such Things As Bad Weather.”
In a nutshell, both titles leave me encouraged to send my kids outside without me planning or trying to structure their play. We’ve added loose parts to the yard in the form of tree cookies, stumps, logs and other pieces of wood. Our sandbox holds buried treasures, the ingredients for a mud birthday cake, and even rocks for excavation.
My form of supervision often involves me listening to them play while I sit on the deck with a book. My three kids are aged six and under. I have been amazed at the creativity, ingenuity and problem-solving skills they have. My washing machine probably runs more than most, but that’s a sign of a good day!