outdoor play is so important for little ones and holden and i attempt to spend as much time as possible exploring the outdoors. most of us spend a lot less time outdoors than our parents and our grandparents, and our little ones will probably spend even less time than us. a growing body of evidence suggests that contact with nature is “as important to children as good nutrition and adequate sleep” (louv, 2005), and although i've never been the biggest outdoorsy person, having holden has changed my preconceived notions about the outdoorsy types.
spending time outdoors allows children to engage in “endless sensory experiences that support the observation skills underlying scientific thinking and aesthetic awareness” (torquati & barber, 2005). there are a number of ways that contact with nature, especially through unstructured and imaginative play, can benefit children and contribute to their development including greater physical health, increased creativity, reduced stress, more concern for other living things, and a greater awareness of the natural environment.
when it's nice, holden and i spend every waking minute enjoying the fresh air and warm rays. we are lucky that we are surrounded by a large number of regional parks and open spaces, and i am always trying to come up with different games to play when exploring. holden loves picking flowers and i've found (sadly) that the only one i can actually name is the dandelion, so earlier this week i printed a pdf of our area's wildflower photo guide and we ventured to a nearby park to identify the flowers scattered abundantly across the fields. holden truly loves to learn and letting him search through the pictures to find his freshly picked flower was more fun for him than i had event expected.