Last year as a teacher’s assistant, I attended the South Carolina Montessori Alliance Conference that is held each year in Columbia, South Carolina. This is a one-day only conference on a Saturday. Being new to the Montessori school environment, I learned so much.
Fast-forward a year and a half to this past weekend. The school wanted the entire staff to attend the MEPI Conference, which is located on Kiawah Island. Unlike SCMA Conference last year, MEPI is a two-day conference, which allows time for twice as many workshops. There were so many wonderful choices to choose from but I chose to attend the following: A Peaceful Start, Guided by Nature pt.1 & pt.2, an Infant and Toddler Round Table discussion, Stick to the Recipe, and The Bridge Shelf (by our very own Ms. Sarah).
While I gleaned so much useful information from each and every workshop, I just want to highlight a few things from Guided By Nature on the importance of getting your children outside:
- Children ages 2-5 spend an average of 32 hours a week in front of TV, computer, video game screens (University of Michigan Health System, 2013)
- AAP recommends against screen time for children under 3 years of age.
- Research supports need for natural play spaces and unstructured play (Children and Nature Network, 2012)
- Outdoor play helps cognitive and physical development flourish
- Provides opportunities for creativity, problem solving, moral development, critical thinking
- Outside is an excellent sensorial experience: listening to the birds and other animals, feeling the textures on the ground, touching and smelling the plants that are present, etc.
- Children need to have experiences where they are faced with the unknown (for example: roots sticking up out of the ground, rocks, or even ants)
- Children learn how to fall properly when they are young
These are a few great reasons to introduce your child to nature.
“The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.” – Maria Montessori
Toddler II Lead, Ms. Liz