Happy 1st Birthday to the Alexander Central School District’s “Outdoor Classroom!” With learning stations, that include everything from a music and movement station and a bird watching station to a sand/dirt digging station and adventure platform station, it is housed in the school’s previously established nature study area. As the only certified outdoor classroom in the area, let me toast some of its many attributes!
- It is a vision come to life! Born out of one veteran’s teacher’s desire to re-root children in outdoor play, nature, and learning, a community came together and helped the school win a $50,000 “Pepsi Refresh Your World” grant. Thank you, Ellie Jinks, veteran elementary school educator, for your vision and for the Alexander Central School System community for making it happen!
- It is returning children to their natural space-the great outdoors. Its existence helps turn the tide on what Richard Louv, best selling author of Last Child in the Woods, coined nature deficit disorder. Children are again experiencing a relationship with nature.
- It is helping children further succeed in the school setting, as studies show that children who learn in an environment that incorporates nature have better success than children who do not.
- It is combating the childhood obesity epidemic that our nation is experiencing. Studies find that regularly experiencing nature can help prevent childhood obesity.
- For many parents who are shaking their heads at the Common Core Standards rigidity and lamenting the loss of regular recess for our children, it is literal and figurative natural antidote.
- It is a great way to counter balance the saturation point many children have reached with too much technology in their lives.
As I raise my milk carton to the AOC, thank you for being an inspiration in Western New York education and to school systems everywhere!