Thursday, March 24, 2011

Outward Bound

With the big kids starting Kindergarten in the Fall, I feel like my time left with them is limited - and once school starts I only get a few hours a day with my munchkins. Im determined to make the most of our time.

There has been some buzz about kids spending time outside - that they don't have enough unstructured time with Nature. Sad that people need to be reminded to spend time outdoors. And we all know that kids time has been more and more structured over the years - free, unstructured time - is it safe?!
There have been articles about outdoor preschools and Kindergartens in Maine and Oregon (sorry, can't find the link) where the children are outside all day regardless of the weather.  That is a little extreme for my taste...but being outdoors, I get it.

 This is our backyard. On a good day. Sure, there are a few strands of grass here and there, but black mud or in the summer, black dust, prevails. 5 minutes in the backyard requires clothes to be stripped upon entering the house and an immediate shower. On all sides of our square of black are fences bordering our neighbors' yards. I know, I paint a dismal picture. Let's just say it isn't what I pictured for my kids.  It makes it tough to just throw open the slider and send them out.
Lucky for us even the most Urban environments have acres and acres of protected land. Thanks Audobon! I have a list that keeps growing of Nature Centers, hiking trails and little patches of woods. I pack them up, strap the baby onto my chest and off we go. I point out a few notable things - moss, nests, roots - but generally I let them explore on their own.

We love it. I want to do it more often, especially after school in the Fall. Obviously as the weather gets warmer it will be easier. And the house in my dreams includes at least a little patch of woods...hopefully we get there before the kids go to college!

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