Tag Archives: Hidden Oaks Nature Center

How and Why Home Can Supplement School

Four children take a break from school by playing together outdoors

First, 8-year-old Emma changed her name to “Kitty” in the midst of a Zoom session. Another time, she tried to make her classmates laugh by showing them her bare foot. Fiddling with a glue bottle while her teacher was talking was apparently the last straw.

“We just want it to be a successful year for everyone,” the teacher said in a phone call home. The words she spoke were soothing, but her tone said otherwise. “You could hear she was upset,” recalls Emma’s mom, who herself was assigned homework. The teacher told her to clear off Emma’s desk so there’d be no further distractions.

All that in the first week of school for a kid who had used her small summer allowance to pay for a math game subscription.

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Last spring’s rush to online learning was understandably rife with problems. “For most, remote teaching did not work well,” contends David McKinnon, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at Stony Brook University in a presentation by Children and Screens. “Kids gained little or nothing, or regressed.” This time, schools have had more time to prepare. Still, he says, “creating a good remote learning program is a very challenging task.”

Teachers will try their hardest to give students opportunities for higher-level reasoning and independent thought along with the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. What may be lost for kids are the intangibles, like being able to express their feelings, move around, and build life skills. That’s where home can supplement.

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Discover the Best Nature Play Spaces near Washington, D.C.

Did you know elementary-aged kids have about half the core strength kids had only a decade ago? Overall creativity has also taken a hit. The way we use technology gives us more reasons than ever to sit down. Like us, kids don’t move around as much and have less free time to use their imaginations. What’s the solution for more healthy and durable young bodies and minds? Plenty of free play outdoors in the sunshine and breeze!

For year-round adventure, these amazing parks in the Washington, D.C. area don’t have swings, slides, or other typical playground equipment, but guarantee a healthy whole-child workout.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA is a gorgeous destination for the whole family whereamid hundreds of ornamental and native plants and the occasional nosy goosethere’s a garden just for kids, perfect for little ones to touch and smell the herbs and flowers, stow away in hidden spaces, and host imaginary tea parties.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale, VA features Nature Playce, a free-play utopia where kids use hay bales, sticks, and rounds of wood to build forts and castles they can knock right down when they are finished if they want to. Here, kids use all their muscle groups and build skills they can’t in the classroom.

Constitution Gardens Park in Gaithersburg, MD is a completely accessible urban hideaway with tons of sand, a water play area, and whimsical structures to climb, all made from local sycamore wood. Kids of all ages have plenty of space to explore and move to their own playtime agenda. Visit Constitution Gardens and feel the freedom!

Where’s a nature play space where you live?

For more ideas on helping your whole family to be healthy and balanced, sign up for Durable Human News and read How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design.

This post was written by Jenifer Joy Madden, tech hygienist, Syracuse University journalism professor, and author of the practical handbook for living in harmony with technology: How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design.