24th May, 2012 - Posted by - No Comments
Health benefits and opportunities for academic and social development are associated with well designed outdoor play spaces which promote play and interaction with natural elements.
I’ve been of proponent of nature-based education and play for twenty years, and for almost three years I have been bringing nature to our programming and resources here at Head Start Body Start.
In this time I have seen firsthand many Head Start and Early Head Start programs start naturalizing their play spaces and make an effort to spend more time outdoors and really look at it as “the other classroom”. I can’t tell you how exciting that is!
But sometimes you need something a bit more official to spark change — to give people the feeling that they have permission to change the way they have been doing things. And I am happy to say, recently the Office of Head Start did just that.
“Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.” – Thomas Berry
In April, the Nature Based Learning and Development (NBLD) work group that I am a part of had an amazing opportunity. We presented an entire NBLD track at the National Head Start Association (NHSA) Annual Conference, which included a half-day workshop and 15 sessions. We were so encouraged that NHSA recognized the importance of the topic, and were thrilled by the turnout for all the sessions.
We were also thrilled when the Office of Head Start Director, Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, made a video speaking about the importance of the topic. I cannot say enough about the official endorsement. It matters. A lot.
Having the need recognized and the benefits understood and celebrated from the very top is so powerful. To all of us in the trenches. To the parents and families. To the monitors and potential funders. To the children. Take a few minutes and watch the video. And please, share it!
For more information and resources, visit the Nature Based Learning and Development page, which I have been lucky enough to work on over the past year.
And remember — Take it outside!
Playfully yours ~ Bethe
Blogger Bio: Bethe Almeras, MS, is the Center Director for Head Start Body Start. A long time educator and play advocate, she is passionate about outdoor play and connecting children with nature. In her free time Bethe writes a blog, The Grass Stain Guru, and can often be found playing outside. She is particularly fond of squirrels. And turtles. And sandpipers. And…