May 27th, 2017- June 3rd, 2017 is "Get Outside and Play" week in Alberta, Canada!
Get Outside and Play week is an invitation to celebrate outdoor play in the early years. The Alberta Council for Environmental Education, ACEE, is spearheading this province wide initiative to support and engage families, early childhood educators and communities in outdoor play spaces.
Why: Unstructured outdoor play has increasingly been observed to be a missing piece of childhood today. Benefits of unstructured outdoor play for children can include a developing sense of self-competence, increasing physical literacy, sparking curiosity and inquiry, connecting to other living things, developing a sense of place in a community and fostering social and problem solving skills... to name a few.
So how can adults help provide opportunities to get outside and play for the children in their lives?
1. The first ingredient is dedicating time.
Dedicating time to outdoor play is something that may take practice, for the whole family, and rest assured that you can start small! In addition you will have the inspiration of spring and warmer weather on your side to start practicing!
Some simple examples include: backyard picnics, reading a book outside together, build a fort in your backyard, paint rocks, go on a ladybug or worm 'hunt' in your backyard and beyond.
Once you've dedicated time to outdoor play, here are some quick tips:
- Rest assured that you do not need to know all the answers when exploring the outdoors with your child. Demonstrating curiosity and encouraging your child's questions can go a long way in generating meaningful outdoor experiences for your family.
- Welcome the opportunity to adjust your pace and level of observation to your child's. You may experience a whole new world of exploration and an appreciation for the smaller things.
- Let nature supply the ingredients, and together with your child, you make the recipe! In other words let the natural world help facilitate the experience for your family! You may be surprised by where your interests lead!
- Follow your child's lead. This may take some practice (and that's ok!). Following the child's lead will also help to enhance the previous tips. You may also find there are surprising benefits for both adult and child as a result! I have found it has led to some surprising opportunities for bonding and understanding between my son, myself and in our relationship.
For any adult who may still be feeling apprehensive about setting off in the outdoors with a child this spring, here is a final quote from Rachel Carson, a scientist and advocate for exploring the outdoors with young children, in hopes to provide some reassurance:
“Exploring nature with your child is largely a matter of becoming receptive to what lies all around you. It is learning again to use your eyes, ears, nostrils, and finger tips, opening up the disused channels of sensory impression.” Rachel Carson - 1956
For more information, resources and how to participate in the "Get Outside and Play" week please visit: www.abcee.org/getoutsideandplay
Did I mention PRIZES!?
In Calgary? Come to the Get Outside and Play week launch event!
When: May 28th, 2017 from 11:30 - 3:00
Where: Pearce Estate Park, Calgary AB
What: Family picnic, Mountain Wit Theatre and outdoor family activities!
Have fun this spring exploring your family's natural inclinations in the outdoors!