Each table of teachers began discussing our childhood stories, and then we shared them with the room. Without exception, each teacher recalled a wonderful time she had outdoors, when she was (and here's the kicker) unsupervised. The speaker went on to tell us children today spend far less time outdoors than they did 10, 20, or 50 years ago, and that children are suffering for it. (If you are interested in reading all about this, please read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. It is fantastic!) Our speaker further explained that children need unsupervised and unstructured time to explore their surroundings.
He wasn't suggesting we abandon our children and head out for the day. Rather he was showing us how children revel in the sense of adventure they get from being without adults, how they use their imaginations in astounding ways, and work together to learn wonderful things.
Why do I mention this? Am I suggesting here that we as teachers, leave our children unsupervised? (Parents have more leeway here, but teachers do not.) So nope, not for a minute. What I am getting at here, is that we as teachers and parents, can give our students and children that sense of freedom that comes with being unsupervised, in a safe and secure way.
Here are some little "nooks" in our classroom where children can go when they need to get away from the hustle and bustle. They can read, rest, or day dream in . . .
the DEAR bathtub
or in a small trunk, (as Pilgrims, of course.)
A big box makes a great Pilgrim house,
or a child sized observatory (too big for adults to fit inside!)
Children can also create their own private places.
They can make a snug little fort, under a rainbow,
a house of sticks . . .
A cloth makes outdoor play equipment a place for a new adventure.
That same cloth, tied to a bit of fence, makes a great hiding place.
Sometimes a few bushes do the trick,
or if children are very lucky, their dad builds them their own special spot, in a favorite tree.
Just right for your best friend
However you do it, please be sure to give your students or your child a place to feel, dream, and
imagine - and feel unsupervised (even if they really aren't!) : )