Seasonal Affective Disorder (and boy do I have it bad), I see a definite connection between being in the natural world and my wellness. Last year, when I was working in Rhode Island in a school set in the suburbs it was very easy for me to take my students outside and work out there. I student taught in both North Kingstown and Portsmouth, suburban schools with a wealth of green surrounding their campus. My cooperating teacher at Portsmouth even designed and implemented a Plein Air Studio outside of her classroom! I was so lucky to teach out in this area, and soak in the sun with my student's as they fervently drew/collaged and painted, took photographs of their work, drew from a live model and closely observed and illustrated flowers that they hand planted the year prior.
This week we had a chance to take various students outside and walk down the Central Park and soak in the sun, be in nature, and most importantly: PLAY! This outside time did wonders for the student's wellbeing, attitudes and health. As part of Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, the first wife has been spreading the word about how important activity and movement is in the health of our nation's children.
I am thankful that my school realizes how important Dance, Recess, Sports and trips out of the building are to our students, especially in the concrete jungle of NYC! (And yes of course I am thankful that my school realizes how important Art is as well, but let's stay focused!)
One of my fondest memories of Elementary school was making sit-a-pons and then bringing them outside to a little cove for a read aloud. I liked trudging out of the classroom, sit-a-pon in tiny hand, and believing I was in a secret forest or fort with the rest of my classmates while our teacher read to us.
If I could teach in an outdoor classroom for even part of the year, I would jump at that opportunity in a heartbeat. Perhaps I should start writing up a grant. An outdoor classroom in the city...hmmm. MAYBE!