"Times have changed" - Hasn't every generation uttered that phrase?
Thankfully the Lord never changes, though -- His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations!
© Photo by Kristen Worst, Tsakani Studios
Yet this generation's children have experienced some dramatic changes, including but certainly not limited to the availability of technology, increase of scheduled events, and numerous indoor activity options.
This generation's childhood looks significantly different from that of previous generations.
According to Richard Louv, Chairman of the Children & Nature Network Board of Directors, "A growing body of evidence suggests that significant changes in childhood have occurred over the past several decades relating to children's experiences in nature." As the Chairman of the Children & Nature Network Board of Directors, he coined the phrase "nature-deficit disorder" to describe a major shift in society that appears to be associated with detrimental impacts on children's health and well-being.
Free exploration in nature is no longer a common, integral component of the modern childhood.
And schools do not have the luxury of assuming that all children experience the wonder and freedom of extended time in God's beautiful creation.
But the good news is, it takes very little to instill this relationship in a lasting, meaningful way.
The outdoors is a power tool that provides motivation, excitement, wonder, as well as lasting-learning moments through integrated interdisciplinary experiences. The outdoors serves as a living laboratory in which students find experiences in math, science, nature, dramatic play, water, building and construction, sensory activities, physical development, art and music.
As a result children develop critical thinking, cooperative and problem-solving skills as well as minds open to discovery, questioning and a sense of wonder.
Ultimately, while outdoors students receive the gift of a connection to the Creator through His creation.
At West Side Christian School, we embrace the opportunity to expand the classroom beyond the walls of our building and intentionally introduce the children entrusted to our care to the beauty and wonder of the created world - and to the Creator of this amazing world in which we live.
To that end, we have partnered with Blandford Nature Center to provide intentional and structured interdisciplinary learning opportunities for all our students. Through this partnership, our preschool students recently explored how animals survive in the winter and our second graders experienced nighttime owling! These are just a few examples of the varied and numerous learning experiences this partnership provides our students.
Photo courtesy of Blandford Nature Center
Our students enjoy these learning opportunities, and our faculty appreciates the many benefits outdoor education offers our students. Subscribe to the blog to find out more specifically about the educational, health, and stewardship benefits outdoor education offer students at West Side Christian School.