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Connecting with the World Around Us

“Feel the rain on your skin, no one else can feel it for you.”

– Lyrics from the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield

“Do you make children stay inside when it rains?” a father asked while touring the school recently. “My child’s school won’t let kids out even when it’s just drizzling.” This dad wants his child’s educational journey to include a full relationship with the outdoors.

I understand his vision because it is echoed in countless comments from our alumni, who consistently use the word “magical” to describe their adventures in the various terrains of our school—the hillside beside the playground, the big field above, the gardens, the trails. These outpourings from former students, all so similar, don’t surprise us, as our school has always had the goal of linking children with the natural world and nurturing their sense of wonder and discovery, a capacity that seems an even higher priority for children today.

Our current students may grow up to enter jobs and develop skills that haven’t been created yet. Their abilities to be sensitive and appreciative observers of the world around them will help them to thrive and contribute.

Here some ways to reawaken your capacity for awe and explore nature with your child:

Have nature scavenger hunts—create lists of things to find—a shiny object, one with spirals, a leaf with a wonderful fragrance when it crumbles, three kinds of flowers, animal tracks.

Encourage collections of beautiful objects—feathers, rocks, shells.

Provide tools—magnifying glasses, binoculars, bug catchers, measuring tape, clipboards with paper, and art supplies for drawing.

Keep nature journals—notice and note interesting observations in nature, changes in a habitat.

Take photos of beautiful objects.

Encourage imaginary play outside—put out props, costumes, play accessories.

Most people agree that spending time outdoors is important, but what makes the experience magical is the feeling of timelessness when we pause everything just to enjoy the feeling of rain or wind on our face, the color of the sunset, or the sight of a deer. Whether we stop to sense, smell, observe, magnify, draw, photograph, or simply touch and examine a piece of the natural world, the real wonder is the feeling of unity that comes with it.


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