Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Nature's Ambassadors

We've had every kind of weather these last 2 weeks.  As I look at last week's photos-I can't believe we had all of those clothes on!  But such is the variant weather of the northwest. 
Since the air has been warm-we have been taking off layers and enjoying the cooling in the forest and waters of the park.  Last week we spent some time teaching the kids about being "Nature's Ambassadors."  What does this mean for them?  We want them to understand that there are reasons why we do not pick flowers in the woods or trample a mushroom.  I think the concept of ambassador is easier when they move a slug off the path so it doesn't get stepped on.  It is certainly more esoteric when the concept is not destroying a stream environment. 
When I have read Richard Louv's books on children and nature - one of the big concepts I agree with is allowing children to have their own experience in nature.  This means that they can try things that might look a little scary to adults such as balancing on a log or scrambling up a steep slope off the trail.  It also means doing some things that might not be great for the environment if they were done all of the time.  Such as pulling the bark off of a downed tree or stamping and splashing through the stream. 
As nature teachers, many of us believe that the strong feelings of nature-freedom and fresh air - will create environmentalists of the future.  This may require a bit of a hard workout for the forest.

To that end-I make sure that our own crowd of 12 kids doesn't play in the same place every week.  That way I am hoping that the forest will get a bit of a break from their boots and hands.  It also keeps us moving and exploring every single day of preschool.

As I interject little lessons on plants, forest animals and the environment  rest assured that I will also be teaching them to take care of the forest and to be ambassadors to our future while allowing them as much freedom as I can.

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