One of the big questions that arises for parents who see Mother Nature’s Child is “Where do I begin?” There are several good books out there listing activities and suggesting learning experiences for children in nature. But, if you want the perspective of a parent who raised two kids with a great deal of thought about the ways that time in nature could support their inner and outer development, read Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors (just published by Sierra Club Books).
Those of you who have seen the film know that environmental author/educator David Sobel is one of our featured experts. In our interview, we mostly focused on his research about fort-building in middle childhood. Last week I read Wild Play and was fascinated to learn more about David’s experiences as a parent. The book follows Tara and Eli, David’s now grown children, through the same three stages covered in the film: early and middle childhood, and adolescence. If you are a parent looking for inspiration about thoughtful, imaginative ways to nurture your kids’ connection to the natural world, David’s your guy.
Not everyone lives in an idyllic rural community or has the resources to provide some of the grander adventures David offered his kids, but the book’s most powerful material is more about grounding children in a variety of age appropriate nature experiences that can strengthen them not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. David thoughtfully considered ways that nature might help develop his children’s sensory awareness and strength but also their imaginations, emotional resilience, and self confidence. Who wouldn’t be well served with a dad like that? Best of all, he carefully tracked and shares Tara and Eli’s responses to these experiences as toddlers, middle school age kids, and adolescents.
Come join David and me at the May 12th screening of Mother Nature’s Child in Chester, Vermont (sponsored by The Nature Museum and The Compass School). We will lead a discussion after the film. Ask him lots of questions — I can’t wait to hear more!