Monday, April 29, 2013

101 things to do outdoors with children #31...go up, and then kick back

It's not summertime yet, but oh, the livin' is easy. 

I'm told time and time again that letting children climb trees is one of the most difficult, stress-inducing, anxiety-producing things that parents or caregivers can be asked to do. I will begrudgingly admit that at times it can be very difficult to watch, worried that a child will fall and get hurt. It can be especially nerve-wracking if a child scrambles up a tree, higher than you the adult can reach, should the need arise. Yes, I understand that there are hard objects on the ground, onto which a child could fall. There are sharp-edged branches that can poke and scratch. Yes. I get it. 

But I always caution parents and caregivers-please, please step back and let the children climb. Climbing trees teaches children about risk and consequence.It teaches them what they can and can not trust their own bodies to do. If there is a scratch or a bump or a fall (and let's hope it's minor!) - most of the time, these events serve to teach children about their own physical limitations, and that they can recover from scary, sometimes painful accidents. Climbing requires them to really pay attention to their bodies in space: how they move, how much space they take up, how to get from one place to another. It teaches them to navigate and balance. To coordinate movements, to plan their next move. It challenges their confidence and their abilities. It tests their strength. It tests their courage ("wonder if I could get up to that branch there?") It gives them a new vantage point (really!) from which to see their world. 

And, it's just plain fun!  

Please check back tomorrow and see another nature play tip and be sure to visit the next few stops on the virtual book tour:

Tomorrow the "Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth" book will be highlighted on The Sellabit Mum, a charming and funny parenting blog from a mother right here in Minnesota. On May 1, you will want to check out Conscientious Confusion. a blog about green living and parenting.  I'm so grateful for the support.  

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