Clearly, a childhood spent outdoors playing, exploring and discovering is a valuable experience. Study after study proves that children interacting with the outside environment is very crucial in human development. We all can recall our own childhood excitement in discovering the mysterious outside world–definitely priceless! These outdoor experiences have helped in producing the worlds greatest risk takers, problems solvers and inventors.
Unfortunately, the latest trends amongst adolescents plugging into various technologies like, video games, personal computers and television are at an all-time high. Students are now more than ever being diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, obesity and depression. Sadly, children are being prescribed medications to deal with health problems. Today, children’s body mass index is higher than before. The American Heart Association for disease reported that heart disease in children has tripled in the past 20 years.
Being outside and participating in physical activity not only increases children’s feeling of well-being but also increases their ability to focus on tasks. As of 2008/2009, the BC ministry of education recognized the importance of healthy childhood development and implemented daily fitness into the curriculum in elementary schools. Teachers realize learning is more meaningful and effective when students can interact and draw connections between their education and environment. Keeping it fun, active and hands-on is the key to developing skills such as, curiosity and a sense of wonder in our students that will last a lifetime. In turn, we will raise healthier children (physically and mentally).
The 2009 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, [in collaboration with ParticipACTION and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute – Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (CHEO-HALO)] reveals that children who are more physically active are also more academically fit, resulting in better scores in math and reading, higher grades, greater perceptual skill and overall academic readiness.
A few Suggestions to inspire a great outdoor classroom experience and learn about local ecosystems :
*My colleague recently took her students on a fabulous all-day nature field trip (free of charge) to Salt Spring Island. An amazing experience that took them to a variety of ecosystems. The students definitely left with a new appreciation for their environment. For more information visit their website: www.saltspringconservancy.ca.
*Another great leader in Canadian environment education is EDC’s EcoKids Program. A great resource for teachers, students and families. EcoKids recently unveiled a new website: www.ecokids.ca. Definitely worth checking out, especially for the 2010 Great EcoKids Challenge. Also, it provides:
- New lesson plans tailored to Provincial Curriculum Standards
- Free resource kits chalk full of useful classroom resources
- A “Homework Help” section for students
- A Teachers’ Forum to share creative and unique ideas about education and the environment
*The Surrey Nature Centre offers a range of environmental education programs in the marvellous natural setting of Green Timbers. They offer a new complement of programming for Fall, Winter, and Spring to keep students engaged throughout every season of the year. Visit their website: www.surrey.ca/naturecentre
*We all can worker together to help children live longer and healthier lives. To limit TV time and get your kids moving visit these links below:
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