Recently a parent asked me why must we continue to go outside for The Parenting Place’s Play Shoppe’s first Friday of the month?
“Why couldn’t we just always have Play Shoppe inside – especially now, that it’s colder outside?”
I considered this question as I have done from time to time previously. Perhaps I should give up on this fervent desire of mine to introduce young children to the joy of the natural world. But, then, first Friday came – Seminary Park in the Fall – and I knew my answer.
What a lovely morning it was!
Granted our group size for our cooler outings is a bit lower, but I believe that’s only until word gets out how much fun they can be. The beautiful part of being outdoors is to observe the children exploring and discovering with such a sense of freedom and independence.
On Friday, the children ran and jumped into a large pile of leaves, giddily threw them up in the air (who cares?), climbed in and out between two adjoining trees ( a very brave feat), scaled small embankments (mountains perhaps to a young 2-year-old), discovered a cache of large pine cones – “This is the most pine cones I have ever seen”, as all the children spontaneously began to collect them, industriously and with great purpose, to make a very huge pine cone pile.
The beauty and unquestionable power of mornings like this is the freedom it offers to children – unrestricted movement (yes, running, no problem) , stopping to observe and look, ( of course), loud voices (why not?), getting a bit dirty (to be expected), rosy cheeks (refreshingly adorable).
Outside adventures offer a laboratory for children to observe, pick up, smell, throw, roll, skip, jump, fall down and get back up, to run ahead of mom and have it be okay. It’s the easiest way to begin social skills, for one child to naturally follow another child’s play. There are plenty of pine cones for all, and leaves, and sticks, and time.
It’s science at it’s most organic level.
You know what they say in Whoville ? -That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day?
Well, I believe that when children have access to the freedom of the outdoors and the sense of wonder and exhilaration that comes from that, like on a first Friday Play Shoppe adventure, our children’s spirits grow three sizes that day!
Come on out and join us!