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Raising Free-Range Children in Nature

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

“Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and when the grass of the meadows is wet with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.” ~ Maria Montessori

Our classroom has magic green walls where we can find berries, birds, inchworms, and even thorns. Our classroom's floor can be grassy, muddy, or sandy. We have the longest and slimiest worms living underneath it. Our classroom's roof changes every day. Somedays are covered with tree branches where herons, squirrels, bald eagles, and crows live. On other days, our floor is blue and full of funny-shaping clouds, and on other days it is grey and wet. Our classroom is full of "toys" to play with. We have sticks, rocks, branches, sand, leaves, and everything you can imagine. Our classroom has a big playground where we slide on rocks, climb trees, swing on branches, and hide in small caves. Our classroom is for free-range children.

Shoes off, sunscreen on, a mind full of wonder, and a body ready to run around have been part of our everyday checking list before our unstructured play in nature starts. After snack and storytime, children are free to explore. Some of them love climbing rocks, others prefer collecting sea glass and shells while looking if there is any crab close by. There is a crew who enjoys preparing sand cupcakes, muddy cakes, and seawater shakes.

While a bunch of children is playing in the water or on the trees, another bunch is collecting garbage left on our beaches and forests.

Depending on the season, our classroom has delicious blackberries to be picked by our preschoolers.

Our days are such an adventure. There is always something new to learn and explore. Our days are full of nature.

Children being themselves, running and playing freely, getting their hands and feet dirty in a natural environment where they are loved and supported is what we call " Free Range-Children"

So much has been said about the benefits of outdoor playing. As an outdoor educator, I have witnessed the freedom and confidence students develop for I cannot stress enough the importance that this has in children during their early years.

Nature is a great space for the growth of emotional development, and the social, listening, communication, fine motor, and early literacy skills of preschoolers.

"Outdoor play can also assist children to learn about decision making, develop their ability to share, develop the conceptual ability, the ability to imagine an idea without seeing it in practice, learn about their body and their ability as well as become more independent and address their fears" ~ Ireland Childcare Committee

Let's get our children outside. Let's let them explore. Let's let them be children.

“It’s time to return to childhood, to simplicity, to running and climbing and laughing in the sunshine, to experiencing happiness instead of being trained for a lifetime of happiness. It’s time to let children be children again. .” ~ LR Knost

Stay connected for more information about the amazing world of learning in nature.

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