As we finish our first semester, in what we now operate in as 2 - 6 weeks sessions, to allow for adjustments as we sway to and fro with the Covid Climate; I am excited by the possibilities of connecting more children to the natural world, as we move forth and navigate in these unprecedented times. Our staff, our families and the children have stayed healthy and we all had the fortunate experience to engage in the natural world in so many exciting, imaginative and connective ways. In reading this article below, I am reminded of the importance for our children to connect to the natural world as what my friend Kathleen Lockyer calls ‘Rx Outside’! All humans need it, is my true belief. We simply cannot deny the research and evidence of nature as a medicine for the mind, body and soul.
As a teacher, a Director, a mom of 2 nature-connected, earth-steward young men, I have been taking note of my own evidence over the last 20 years and have proven over and over again the positive changes nature offers the children we are so fortunate to have with us each program session. In our current times today, there is an even stronger need to get the kids outside, and even adults are feeling this for themselves. We must not forget that what we see in the kids whose parents are working so hard to support their children in school and social time, and connections away from the screen and inside doors, has shown me to be a true decompression for the kids.
‘They may prefer to stick to their screens, but here's why getting outdoors matters’ Danielle Cohen
Here is what BEan staff witness, in our outdoor adventures with the children:
more smiles, more laughter, some tears at times but followed by more resilience of being supported with wonderful mentors in a program with core values to support the child as they move through their time ‘just be’ing’, a willingness to try new things and build confidence, time to disconnect and disengage in the technical world and a time to drop into the wild world, children immersing into their imaginations; I personally have witnessed children from 5 all the way up to 14, do this, an ease in meeting new friends when maybe they were more shy to start, and a comfort in just be-ing while supported in the natural world, confidence built by connection to new skills such as ancestral fire building and tending, tracking, wild crafting, cooking over the fire they are tending to, an ease in meeting new friends and hanging out in the dirt together, a willingness to try new, challenging at times skills, tasks and learning. I could go on!
BEan teaches not by a didactic model but by an inquiry based style of teaching, we also call this in our wild language ‘coyote mentoring’, a skill taught to us by a teacher named Jon Young, in his book, Coyote Mentoring. We teach through ‘coyote mentoring’, where we focus on child-directed experiential learning, acute observation and inquiry, whereby students are "learning by doing".
Why is this important?
We believe it is through having magical experiential nature mentors that students will be inspired to have both hope and solutions in an era of climate change and global environmental, human and creature uncertainty. We believe students who are taught to fall in love with science through child-led nature mentoring, will be the ones who will be the pioneers of zero-impact, cradle-to-cradle manufacturing, and create biomimicry designs to complex human challenges for a healthy planet. They will be the ones who inspire their own families and people in their communities, for seven generations and beyond.
I am so grateful to my mentors and those who have walked this journey before me, that they have taken the time to mentor and support me in my journey. I only hope I can give back with so much love and intention to this beautiful earth we live on, to all the wonderful and brave young children we have the honor to teach.
-marisa bean, director, teacher, homeschool mother, organic farmer, pet mama, earth lover
Why Kids Need to Spend Time in NatureDanielle Cohen