If you Google, “Summer break with children,” you get two types of search results — a variety of activity lists or articles about the evils of summer’s off. Turns out they call it “summer fade,” which is a one month backslide in learning coupled with an increase in Body Mass Index (BMI) for kids.
Many parents counter these issues with a rigorous schedule of summer camps, sport practice and tutoring. While watching television all day with a box of pop tarts is obviously not good, there are some other options beyond a highly structured and scheduled summer.
When planning, or not planning your child’s summer, consider the scientifically proven benefits of boredom, free play and time in nature. These research studies about children and learning support the idea of a summer slowdown.
In a recent BBC news article, Children should be allowed to get bored, Dr Teresa Belton said, “Cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.”
Now couple that reality with studies connecting time in nature with increased learning and emotional capabilities. The positive results of being outdoors for children are vast as seen in this PDF of a decade of Scientific Studies on this topic. Some highlights include:
- “When children engage in authentic play in nature-based outdoor spaces, they develop skills in a variety of domains simultaneously.” – Miller, D.L., Tichota, K,.White, J. (2009).
- “Sullivan has revealed that the symptoms of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are relieved after contact with nature. The greener the setting, the more the relief.” – Taylor, A., Kuo, F. & Sullivan, W. (2001).
- “Children who regularly have positive personal experiences with the natural world show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility.” – Fjortoft, Ingunn (2001).
In addition to the learning benefits to boredom and time in nature, there is also the issue of free play. This article from Parenting Science explores over a decade of studies about the benefits of unstructured play time. The author is careful to note that free play does not mean physcial education classes or sports. Free play is just that. Unstructured play time, which is proven to help math skills, language development, and creative problem solving.
- “Play and exploration trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells.”
- “Psychologist Edward Fisher analyzed 46 published studies of the cognitive benefits of play (Fisher 1999). He found that “sociodramatic play”—what happens when kids pretend together—’results in improved performances in both cognitive-linguistic and social affective domains.'”
And finally, before you schedule a summer of busy stimulation, consider this article and advice from Simplicity Parenting writer Kim John Payne. He says:
“[When Google is hiring they say] ‘we’re less concerned about grades and transcripts and more interested in how you think.'”
If we rewind to a childhood that makes an adult like that, what do we see? Is it racing around from one prep course to another? From soccer to piano to Mandarin? A childhood on the clock and filling up the gaps with zoning on the iPad and obsessing about making more friends on Facebook?
I don’t think so.
When we really look at what happens for a kid when they slow down, tune in to themselves, take space and get busy in serious play, we can see that what they are learning is how to be create a kind of inner structure that will serve them (and us) well in the world ahead. … Play provides a deep and wide-reaching domain for kids to experiment with the real work of the real world.”
Spring Garden Waldorf School and Crown Point Ecology Center are partnering to offer Nature’s Children Parent and Child Class. Nature’s Children is a one of a kind offering for parents and/or caregivers of children ages 18 months to 4 years. This summer session will be offered almost entirely outdoors and will allow children and their parents to experience a Waldorf approach to early childhood education together.
An experienced early childhood teacher will lead the class through seasonal songs and games, artistic activities, nature walks, free play as well as story time with puppetry. Young children learn through imitation. As the children “work” and play together, the parents engage in and model purposeful work for the children such as working in the garden, feeding the chickens, preparing snacks, & creating seasonal crafts to take home.
Crown Point Ecology Center offers a unique site to host this outdoor focused experience with beautiful organic herb and vegetable gardens, wooded trails, barns, wetlands, a pond and more. Experiencing the out of doors offers a wonderful opportunity for discovery, conversation, and play. The Nature’s Children Parent and Child class is a perfect stepping stone into the Waldorf Preschool Program. We hope you will join us.
This class is a once weekly program offered once weekly for six weeks on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday from 9 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. Classes begin the week of July 12th. Cost per session is $180/parent and child and $100 for each additional sibling.
To register for the Thursday Session – Click Here
To register for the Friday Session – Click Here
To register for the Saturday Session: – Click Here
Spring Garden Waldorf School is pleased and excited to announce an expansion of the Nursery Preschool program due to high demand. This program serves children who are 3 or young 4 year olds and are potty trained.
We will be offering a 2 day preschool program on Mondays/Tuesdays. Half and full day options are available. Space is limited. The two day program will follow the same daily rhythm as the 3 and 5 day options. The artistic activities will be painting on Mondays and baking bread on Tuesdays.
If you are interested in applying for your child to attend this program or to be added to a waiting pool for the three or five day program, please contact Amy Hecky at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 330-666-0574. Public and private tours are available.
There will be an open house on April 26th from 1 p.m.- 3 p.m. The entire family is welcome to tour the facilities and meet faculty, Board members and parents. Register Here: http://sgws.org/admission/visit-us/
On this day, you can join your child and walk through the rhythmic, warm, sensory filled experience of a Waldorf early childhood classroom The morning will include circle time, art activity and story time lead by our Nursery Preschool teacher, Miss Kathy.
If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 4, you are invited to join us for a sample preschool morning on March 21st from 9 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
This experience is offered to you at no cost, but you must register as space is limited. Please click below to register.
Age 3-4, March 21: Register Now!
As a special offer, parents who choose to apply for preschool following this experience will be discounted the application fee ($70). Have questions or need more information? Please contact Amy Hecky at email@example.com.
A Message from Nursery Preschool Teacher, Kathy Miller
When I see the words brain development in black and white, I feel such a tremendous responsibility for my classroom’s children. Am I providing every possible opportunity in my Nursery Preschool classroom to develop each child’s greatest potential?
Thankfully, I know that what I do on a daily basis with children in the Nursery Preschool class at SGWS truly honors each child’s gifts and affords every learning opportunity possible. And what is it we do, exactly? We provide a rhythmical, un-rushed day in a carefully prepared environment. To the outsider, the repetitious day in our Nursery Preschool class may seem too subdued or restrictive to inspire learning. However, our homelike setting and predictable rhythms create a safe place for young children to develop life skills, and they also lay the groundwork for the future development of academic skills.
Dr. Jane Healy, a psychologist with a background in neurological development, assures us that repetition is critical to the development of the young child’s brain. Providing an environment with sequence, patterns, and order helps to prevent a chaotic environment, thus allowing the child’s brain to establish pathways for clear thinking.
Dr. Healy explains that after six months, an infant’s brain begins to develop the pathways and connections essential to their future cognitive growth, and these connections are strengthened through repetitive activity. To hurry or rush development impedes the natural process of growth because it lessens the time spent in repetitious experiences that develop these essential connections within a young child’s brain.
In our Early Childhood program at SGWS, the children are not hurried in their development. They are familiar with our rhythmic routines, so much so that at times their inner rhythms are established to the point where they know, without being
told, when it’s time to play, join in circle, listen to a story, participate in creative arts, and enjoy a nutritional snack. This stability allows the children to focus on learning other skills naturally and experientially. We do not awaken the child to structured learning, but allow them to explore, play, and socialize, using their will and curiosity to process information, solve problems, and build cognitive connections.
Our established rhythms are full of opportunities for the young child to flourish cognitively, socially, and creatively. Daily tasks, creative play, practical life skills, and close peer relations provide ample opportunities for the young children’s brain development. It gives me great joy to be part of the Nursery Preschool student’s framework for life!
The Early Childhood classes — Miss Kathy, Miss Olga, and Miss Julie — will celebrate Martinmas with a lantern walk during the school day on Tuesday, November 11. This is a simple celebration, intended to both observe the changing of the seasons and inspire generosity of spirit.
As the story goes, Martin was a prosperous soldier, who, on his way home encountered a shivering begger with nothing to his name. Rather than walk on by, he ripped his own cloak in two in order to give half away. In so doing, he shared the light that was within him with someone in need.
And so, St. Martin became the patron saint of beggars, drunks, and outcasts, dedicating his life to helping others. To celebrate, the three classes will walk down to the creek together during their outdoor playtime, to sing songs and leave seeds and crumbs for the forest animals. And since Martinmas celebrates the light inside of us to share with the world, the children will also make lanterns as a physical representation of this light.