> Sit Spot
Spend some quiet time in nature
Busy, busy, busy; we’re all so busy! And kids – as we’re sure you know – are especially busy. Sometimes it’s important to just stop, put down the busy-people implements and be still. Fine, so we don’t know too many little kids who are happy to sit still for long periods of time either, but providing opportunities for quiet time is important. And we think providing time for this outdoors is key. Spending time in nature has been proven to benefit children 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 for a child to learn how to entertain themselves 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 children 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 and truly have fun being creative in the moment.
Combine the two and we think you have a winning recipe!
How To Do It
Spend time in a sit spot
A sit spot is a non-doing activity to encourage children to observe nature and connect with their local environment. Find a natural area and ask children to find a quiet spot to sit and observe using all their senses as long as they can.
Get down low
Have children lie on their stomachs on the grass, smell the grass and soil and look for little bugs passing under their noses. Have them roll over and look up at the sky and the tree canopy – what do they see?
Ask children to sit in one spot, look around and talk about what they see. What is from nature and what have people made?
Adopt a tree or other plant
Ask children to nominate a tree or plant they want to spend time with. They should look at the features of their plant or tree, what animals live on their plant or tree, how it smells and what it feels like. Encourage children to talk to their plants – according to studies talking to plants will help them grow bigger and healthier!
Call it mooch time, mucking around or bumbling, this type of play is pure gold for little people. Unstructured play is play with no guidelines. It can help children learn how to work collaboratively, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and learn self-advocacy skills. When play is child-driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover areas of interest on their own, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue. In contrast, play controlled by adults has rules and guidelines that children have to follow, which can result in some children losing some of the benefits of play, particularly in developing creativity, leadership and group skills. Unstructured play in a natural environment allows children to engage in nature on their own terms, to find the things that interest them and to follow these interests, whether it’s insects, flowers, trees or stones.
- If you like, you can identify each child’s sit spot so they can return to the spot each time you conduct this activity.
- 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.