18 October 2017
Most of our classrooms this month are focusing on the fall season as we explore changing weather, leaves, pumpkins, apples, harvest foods and other outdoor fun. As we do, it is helpful to remind ourselves of the importance of the natural world in children’s lives. The amount of time that children spend outside has been in decline for decades, and with that trend, we were already seeing a rise in rates of obesity, attention deficit disorder, chronic anxiety, vitamin D deficiency and other health issues. Now with pervasive access to electronic media, new disorders are on the rise including lack of three-dimensional vision, underdeveloped core muscle strength, language delays and social-relationship disorders. Organizations such as The Children and Nature Network (childrenandnature.org) and the National Environmental Education Foundation (neefusa.org) advocate for the return of outdoor time to children’s lives. Activities that you can do with your children at home to reconnect with the natural world include:
- Nature Observation Walks: As you walk around town, help your child observe trees, flowers, birds, squirrels, insects, clouds and other natural elements;
- Nature Collection: Give your child a bag or box to bring rocks, sticks, leaves, seeds and other nature elements indoors for creative projects;
- Nature Parks: Visit Griggs Park, Hall’s Pond, Lost Pond, Leverett Pond and other local sanctuaries or travel outside Brookline to visit the Audubon sanctuaries (www.massaudubon.org) or Trustees of Reservation sites (www.thetrustees.org);
- Park Maintenance: Help clean up Hall’s Pond during Fall Community Day on Sunday, October 22, from 11 am to 2 pm.
- Farm Visits: Go apple or pumpkin picking at a local farm. For locations and directions, see www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/pyo.htm.
- Farmers Market Visit: Check out local farm produce every Thursday, 1 to 6 pm in the Centre Street parking lot;
- Bird Feeders: Hang a bird feeder outside your window and bring birds to you.
We hope you find these activities to be good fun as well as good for your children.