More news outlets are discussing the growing and well-researched trend of outdoor, unstructured play for children and its learning benefits. Three recent articles review studies and consult experts finding that risky play, time in nature and experiential learning have well documented benefits. Many of those experts are calling for a recognition of this research to support education reform, especially in our elementary schools.
In the New York Times article, Can Climbing Trees Replace Preparing for Tests? The answer is, “yes,” according to Patti Bailie, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Maine Farmington.
She says, "Children who engage in risk-taking tend to reap many benefits, including improved motor function, risk assessment, problem solving and resilience."
The New York Times piece quotes author Richard Louv, to summarize his most recent book “Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life,” but Richard Louv, also wrote his own piece on the topic recently on the Children & Nature Network, where he serves as Chairman Emeritus.
In his article, Back to The School of the Future: The Real Cutting Edge of Education Probably Isn’t What You Think It Is, he explores the multitude of evidence that points to green space, and letting children play in it, as key to education reform.
“As it turns out, greening schools may be one of the most cost-effective ways to raise student test scores.”
Leonard Sax M.D., Ph.D, couldn’t agree more in his recent post on Psychology Today -- Lessons from Germany: Children Climbing Trees: “Kids who have never climbed a tree, or whittled a stick with a knife, and who constantly hear warnings about the dangers inherent in everyday life, may be more likely to become anxious, sometimes without even knowing why they are anxious... What can you do, if you live in the United States and you want your kid to have a chance to climb a tree, or whittle a stick?"
Dr. Sax says visit a Waldorf School and specifically sites the Aurora Waldorf School in West Falls, NY.
- Nature and Environment
- Waldorf Education