> Sit Spot
Spend some quiet time in nature
Busy, busy, busy; we’re all so busy! Sometimes it’s important to just stop, put down the busy-people implements and be still. Fine, we don’t know many teenagers who are willing to put down these busy-people implements (I’m looking at you, iPad!) but providing opportunities for quiet time is so important for young people. And we think providing time for this outdoors is key. Spending time in nature has been proven to benefit all of us in all sorts of ways:
- Positive mental health outcomes, such as reduced symptoms and severity of ADHD, reduced stress levels, reduced depression, and increased confidence and self esteem;
- Physical health benefits, such as reduced risks of obesity and myopia, improved balance and coordination, and improved recovery from certain medical conditions;
- Enhanced intellectual development, such as improved creativity and imagination, and improved academic performance
Alone time is time to learn how to entertain yourself or just relax without help or input from anyone else. And this is a crucial aspect of the development of independence. In fact, studies show that teenagers and young adults who know how to fill their time alone rarely feel isolated or lonely. Instead, they learn to be content with whatever situation is at hand.
Combine the two and we think you have a winning recipe!
How To Do It
Get a sit spot! A sit spot is a non-doing activity to encourage students to observe and connect with their local environment, and to build independence, creativity and resilience. Follow these steps:
- Ask students to share their experiences of nature at your school – what have they seen, heard, felt or smelt? How often do students spend time just sitting by themselves outside out of choice? Explain to students that in this activity they will be spending quiet time in nature on their own.
- Begin by asking each student to make a small sign with his or her name on it. The sign can be made of paper and stuck to a stick that can be stood in the ground.
- Take your students for a walk in the schoolyard. As a class, find a place that students feel has the most nature or the most natural features. Ask each student to pick a spot in this place to sit. Students should place their signs at the spot they chose.
- Students should sit down. Explain to students that they will be sitting for between 5 and 10 minutes (depending on student age) and just listening and looking at nature. Students can close their eyes or keep them open or do a combination of the two. The aim is to be still and be aware of the world of nature growing and living around them.
You can use the sit spot routine regularly. It can be used as a:
- Recharge station to bring focus before or after challenging academic work;
- Reflective tool to allow students the time to reflect after difficult or challenging work or events;
- Self-observation tool: How does their experience of their sit spot change each time they visit it? How does this time in nature make them feel? Do they like it or do they find it challenging? Why? Has their experience of nature in their sit spot changed over time? Consider asking students to record the experience of their sit spot over time.
- You can make this a weekly activity where students get some quiet nature time regularly. Consider beginning by asking students to sit in their sit spots for 3 to 4 minutes, and then increase the amount of time spent sitting each time you head to the sit spots.
- Keep a bird, bug and plant book in your classroom, so students can look up what they discover outside.
What’s Our Impact?
Spend time in nature running, climbing trees and getting dirty, or sitting quietly in the natural world around you. Just spending one hour outdoors instead of in the classroom will save you both gas and electricity!
- CO2e (weekly) 5.57
- CO2e (annual) 230
- Black balloons (weekly) 69
- Black balloons (annual) 2773
Australian guidelines recommend that kids and teens spend no more than two hours each day on small screen entertainment.
For every hour we spend on outdoor recreation, we spend just over seven hours in front of screens watching television or accessing the Internet.
Just over one in four Australian children (27%) have never climbed a tree, 28% have never planted or cared for a vegetable garden, and nearly one in three (31%) have never planted or cared for trees or shrubs.
About 31% of Australians aged 14-64 spend on average less than two hours per week, the equivalent of 18 minutes per day, doing outdoor recreational activities.