Monday, June 12, 2017

Tinkergarten :: Enjoying The Benefits Of Outdoor Free Play

“If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy. It's a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it's even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it's a lot more fun.” 

This past week some of my children and I headed off for our trial Tinkergarten class.  I had an idea of what to expect, but was delighted when we arrived and were greeted with little silver pails. The pails were to be used to collect our favorite nature finds on our small hike to our 'outdoor classroom.'

Our classroom was a beautiful, scenic area near a little pond.  Our teacher spread out a large tarp and we opened with a few songs.  The focus of our time was spent making Potions.  She brought tons of sensory materials like fresh lavender, rose petals, beets with with their beautiful red colorful juice and lots of other fun materials.  The children were given glass jars and encouraged to create their own potions with the items she brought and the items they had collected in their pails.  For a mom that can be a little antsy about messes, it was nice to let the children mix to their hearts content.  

The one thing that really struck me was the nervousness that many parents displayed.  If their children got off of the tarp they quickly put them back on.  There seemed to be a bit of panic and fear.   Many of the moms were very concerned about ticks, or getting too close to the water (which was shallow), and really just nature in general.  But, just the fact that they were there shows that they have an interest in letting go a little.

There is so much that can be gained from giving our children the freedom to explore what Mother Nature has to offer.  All five senses are heightened and our innate desire to explore and conquer new challenges kick in.  Sitting in front of a screen can not be compared with experiencing life to its fullest outdoors.

The class is lightly structured and I love the fact that the classes run year round.  The same spot would have looked completely different depending on the time of year.  The lush, green, frog filled spot could be white and icy in January... awakening a whole new sense of discovery.  I also see these classes as a wonderful introduction into deeper studies.  Once we can get over our 'mis-trust' of the natural world and can learn and grow from it our views and ideas open up.  Children want to know what kind of plant it is, or what is that animal sound?  Can I eat this berry or mushroom?  What is this plant good for?  

Spending time outdoors with the breezes blowing, the sun shining and the birds chirping is therapeutic for children and adults alike.

If you are a family that is already spending a lot of time outside and your children (and you) are comfortable free playing, then this class may not be for you.  But, for those who maybe struggle with making natural free time a weekly part of your routine, or just want to experience nature tinkering around with their friends then I highly recommend it.  

One of my children's favorite parts was sitting on the tarp drinking tea that our teacher had brewed for us and drinking them out of little camp mugs.  Sharing a snack together and especially in nature is always special.

For more information including age recommendations, class times and descriptions, and to sign up for a trial class just click the link HERE.

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