I am often asked why it is important for the children to be outdoors for extended periods of time and in all weather. Although I am a proponent of connecting young children with nature for any length of time, I believe that it is important to commit to extended periods of time in nature on a regular and continuing basis. Really, I am recreating my own play memories from my childhood.
The natural world moves at a much slower pace than the human-made world of linear time. Our culture is always in a hurry and we expect that when we enter nature we can learn its lessons on our own time or in the short amount of time we have allotted to its exploration. Nature is something that is meant to be steeped in so its relaxation and re-setting of our frantic time line can take place.
Everyone knows that it is calming and often refreshing to spend extended time in nature. Anyone who has been lead in guided meditation knows that the images that are evoked are all nature ones. No one is asking you to imagine you are in a crowded city sitting at the base of a skyscraper! And yet, while we all know this, nature is often the last place that modern Americans seek out when they are feeling stressed or enraged. Where did this cultural disconnect come from?