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What a Wonder-Full World
By: Junior Kindergarten Teachers Mary Schwartz Dryden and Diane Vujnich and Former Junior Kindergarten Teacher Christie Castagno
“Watch children play in natural environments and you’ll see spontaneous expressions of joy and excitement. Observe children running through a pile of leaves with total abandon, dancing and spinning when they feel the wind blowing through their hair and laughing out loud when they see a toad hopping from place to place. You’ll see unbounded exuberance reflecting a deeply felt emotional response to an unfiltered way of knowing the world of nature. Place young children in natural environments and watch the wonder unfold.” —from “Wonder” by Ruth A. Wilson, PhD
There are many discussions going on in the worlds of education and parenting about the importance of outdoor play and the fact that it is missing in many of our children’s lives. Too much sun, too hot, too cold, too many allergens, not enough time … the excuses can be many. However, the importance of your child’s relationship with nature and the world around him cannot be ignored. Connecting children with the wonders of nature is critical at a very early age. What better place to discover, observe and question in order to learn?
At Rossman School we are fortunate to have the Pollnow Nature Trail as a part of our campus. The Junior Kindergarten uses the trail as an integral part of our Discovery/Science program. The Nature Trail provides a rich learning experience and opportunities for children to experiment, discover and explore. Observations are made by the children about the weather, insects, plants and everything going on around them. Teachable moments are abundant when children make a discovery, ask questions and seek answers to their questions about new discoveries. Children learn about the physical world through natural curiosity and the urge to touch, see, hear, smell, taste, and investigate.
Outdoor activities are important for children of all ages and all abilities. Activities such as hiking, biking and sports can provide needed motor experiences. Playgrounds are great, but even they can’t equal the imagination and energy required to conquer an empty lot, a wooded area or a creek. Other outdoor activities can encourage more types of learning. A budding artist may enjoy drawing or painting landscapes or architecture found in her neighborhood. A writer may find inspiration by observing things in nature at a park or other outdoor setting. A future scientist will enjoy taking a walk with a magnifying glass or binoculars in hand, ready to see and observe all that he can.
Challenge yourself and your child to discover and investigate something about nature that you didn’t know already. When your child sees YOUR wonder and amazement, it will help to cement the realization that learning can take place at ANY age. As you make your plans for spring break, leave the electronics behind and go back to the basics: our earth and the great outdoors.
“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”
Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills. Request a free Rossman School brochure here.