Covid-19 has actually made teachers rethink how to best teach young children. At school, we decided that spending more time outside is better for children. We teachers all know the benefits of nature, yet the demands of what children need to learn, including providing opportunities for technology, have pushed nature aside over the years.
Not this year!
At last we are back to basics, the root of investigating and discovery. Thank goodness.
The erosion of outdoor play in schools, and also art and music, has been a thorn in my side for decades. Parents want their child to succeed, and they think computer programs and phonics are the way to go. They want school to have straight instruction. The problem is, children need to figure things out on their own, and that happens with teacher and parent support, not direction.
Public schools answer to parents. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could educate parents? Schools might look different. I figured this out decades ago. If I educate parents, I am helping the child, too. Parents are always hungry to learn, and isn’t it better to learn straight from the teacher? Makes perfect sense to me.
That is why I write newsletters to families. They soak up everything, because they care about their child and they truly want to learn.
Back to the topic of nature… here is the newsletter I sent to families. I will be able to build upon this and explain in detail how math and science and writing and stories ‘happen’.
Nature is truly a great teacher. We have been including more outdoor activities in our day, and your children are learning and having fun.
Our play packs are perfect to bring along. The tools inside include binoculars, magnifying glasses, crayons, and a clipboard for drawing and recording our finds.
Our short walk to the Woodland Grove was an opportunity to use our tools. There are shapes of different colors mounted onto trees. We had to look hard to find them.
Of course there were other things along the way to discover, such as leaves, bird feathers, and interesting rocks. We will continue to visit and explore the Woodland Grove.
We have a StoryWalk close to the playground. There are twelve poster-size yard signs, each depicting a page in the book “How Do You Wokka-Wokka?” and challenging children to move in different ways. Can you stand on one foot while raising your opposite hand? Can you dance? The book inspires movement, and is perfect for a StoryWalk.
As the school year progresses, the StoryWalk will change periodically.
Stay tuned as we continue to learn from the great outdoors.