Tag Archives: Earthroots

Playing in the Rain

Living in Southern California, rain does not come by a lot like some other places such as Seattle and England.  When the rain comes, have you noticed the children getting really excited.  At least mine does.

This morning my son woke up and immediately started getting dressed to go outside.  Love the way he likes to experience the bit of chill in the air, splash in the puddles and see the water spread, and pick up worms and slugs and put them back in the dirt. This is part of creative play.

Earthroots Field School, a Non-Profit Organization, always has class rain or shine and they are outside in the woods for 5 hours! It certainly is an adventure to engage in the element of rain and chill for that length of time.

This raises an important discussion for parents.  We are concerned our little ones being out in the wet that they will catch cold.  Remember to always bring a change of clothes to allow spontaneous outdoor play in the rain.  The best investment you can make is purchase rain boots for your kids and a rain coat.

The main word of advice for parents, do not be afraid of your children going outside in the cold and rain to play and explore.  This is their time to experience and be curious what bugs come out in the rain and so forth.

Written by Tina Hiatt, Entrepreneur Mother and Marketing Director for Holistic Health & Fitness. http://www.HolisticHealthFitness.net.


Are your Children Experiencing Outdoor Play

In today’s world, children are playing indoors a heck of a lot more than they are outdoors.  What are these kids doing?  I am sure most of you have experienced a three year old who can navigate themselves through the computer better than some adults.  How about those computer games?  I know some children as young as two years who can beat adults at some of these games.  Then there is the TV, well I can say there are some educational programs, but we must be curious about this.  Does TV really have a long lasting affect on our children, good or bad?

To get children outdoors, a popular thing to do these days are playgroups.  I find mine on Meetup.com.  In addition to these playgroups, they are playing organized sports.  Have you noticed in your family’s lifestyle or other families that today’s kids have such a tight schedule at an early age that they are being shuffled from this playgroup to the next, and then shuffled to their organized sports team as early as the age of three years!  Life is so full and “busy” that the kids are so called “calmed down” with a movie, TV show or video game, not only at home but on the road with iPads or cell phones.  Wow, just writing it is making me exhausted.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “enough is enough and I just want to relax!” Here is the thing, your child is being robbed of their own identity, being robbed of a sense of independence and self, and most of all, being robbed of real socialization and learning.  Take it from me, I had to learn that the hard way.  We all do our very best to raise our children as best we know how and help our children be the best they can be.

There is another way.  Let’s stop pushing our children so hard, they really need time to explore to find out who they are in this world. We found the best remedy, outdoor play.  Allow them to get in the dirt and mud and let’s cease on nagging them not to get dirty.  If it is raining, hey, that is the most opportune time to send them outside for play.  Stay out of their way parents!  Allow them discover for themselves, it is vital for their health and stability.  They have only been on this planet for a short amount of time.

You are probably saying to yourself, this is all good and fine and my children are extraordinary, head of the class at age 5 and the sports star at age 6 and at age of 2 and 3 my child knows how to spell and add and nearly read!  Great! And here are some of the things that happen without a child stopping and relaxing and enjoying their natural outdoor environment.  Lose sense of self, social skills are not present, they have violent tendencies or aggressive, they have no access to creativity which helps brain function and health, physically they are not strong and dark circles appear under their eyes, hard going time sleep, loss of motivation and the list goes on. No kidding.

There is something about being outdoors, exploring, climbing, digging, playing in the mud and collecting sticks and other cool things, touching bugs and all the sorts that really has a bearing.  This gives the child a sensation of touch, which brings them into self and the present where they know their place.  It is a feeling of stability and owning their domain.  There is something to be said by molding a mug pie, which connects to their brain in a way that creativity and learning is enhanced.  Sitting and watching a computer screen, even educational, does nothing of the sort.  With outdoor play, the child understands what the natural environment feels like and is able to see the beauty of it then take it in on an intellectual level.  Ever see your child outside observing that worm or the little ants walking on the sidewalk?  Observation keeps them focused and grounded by learning in this environment without the toxic frequencies hitting them as the electronics do (Television, Cell Phone, iPads, tablets, computers).  The large benefit of outdoor play is that it clears their mind of the clutter our world puts in with advertisements, movies, plastic toys, etc. Being outdoors in nature, there is no one to impress and nowhere to get to.  It is about living in the moment and a huge opportunity for creative play and curiosity.

Learning is not only with your head but physical too? Have you ever thought about that? Growing up, the only time I actually got good grades if I was interested in the subject, where I got to experience it in real life or witness for myself. Homework and group projects assisting me in my learning as I went to public school.  Why settle for just classroom learning, let’s give your child a boost with outdoor play.  Children can pick up things quickly, academically and socially. Without this kind of play, it comes to a point that they are just now memorizing.  There were many people who we have talked to that insist that being raised playing outdoors, it is easier for them to learn in school.  Why is this? Just by being outside and touching trees, digging and finding bugs under rocks and amongst trees, children learn easier.  You may say, “my child is doing extraordinary in his/her learning in pre-school and or kindergarten.”  Let’s not dismiss your child’s unique abilities and the learning they do with you and in school at a young age.

Here is something for all parents to think about.

When it is the child’s free will, through outdoor learning and play, they tend to learn and master their education.  Need some more evidence?  The Tots Cafe has interviewed Jodi Levine, Founder of Earthroots, which is an outdoor education and learning for children.  These kids are outdoors all day long in the woods or the beaches. They get to play in mud/sand and with sticks and in streams and observe tide pools.  They are being educated about their natural environment and the instructors are giving them the gift of song, play and story.  It is a kind respectful education where there is no need for discipline, just guidance.

You may be wondering, that sounds nice but what are the differences between these nature children to the children who mostly play indoors? This I invite you to ask yourself.  There are many stories of parents and children a like that nature playing has made tremendous impact.

Personal Story. My 4-year old son and I experienced Earthroots Forest Kindergarten class.  Before we took the class, we were having difficulty with going to bed early (7:30am), as he was consistently going to bed at 9-10pm and getting up at 8-9am, which affected him in many ways than one.  Brings us to our experience at Earthroots. How it works is one parent or guardian must be present at all times. This was new to me being a city slicker and all.

The day consisted of children socializing, the parents socializing too, the kids playing wherever they felt the need and the parents socializing, the kids and parents together singing in a circle, snack time with organic foods for all of us and eating on our blankets, more signing, kids activities which were outdoor running games and a bit of hiking. Followed by an activity and then the best part was quite time. Quite time was to give us a rest and to allow nature a chance to come in and be with us.  That was so needed.  The day was so exhausting for me and all I really did is sit on a blanket, eat outdoors, do a small hike and went exploring with my son as we collected some amazing looking sticks. Okay, that says something about me, but what about my son? The next day and the day after that and so on, he has now been consistent on sleep, falling asleep no later than 8:00pm. Huge improvement! Sleep has now been regular, his actions are now calm instead of tantrums or outbursts, and he seems to be a lot gentler.  There is nothing like the experience of outdoor play and learning.

Stories may inspire you, but if you like to really see results with you and your children, experience the outdoors is the way to go.

There is so much evidence out there toward the benefit of outdoor play, we as parents need to know this and give every possible thing to our children so they grow up healthy, abundant and secure adults. Playing outdoors is one of the most important activities.  Give them this opportunity of playing out in nature.

Written by Tina Hiatt, Director of Holistic Health & Fitness.  http://www.HolisticHealthFitness.net

In the Spotlight, Jeannie Lee

Playgroup Kids with Jeannie

Playgroup Kids with Jeannie

The Tot’s Cafe has a new Spotlight Mom, Jeannie Lee, a mother of two: Christian, who is three and Bella, who is 17 years old.  We met Jeannie at a free Forest Kindergarten preview that she was hosting as a playdate for her attachment parenting Meetup.  We experienced her fabulous playgroup style as parents met at a park, set their blankets down together, and chatted.  She’d invited everybody to bring a handwork project, so most of us were knitting and talking. She explained that handwork helped her practice being a “benign parental presence,” a term she liked from Kim Paine’s book, Simplicity Parenting. She believes that keeping her hands busy and feeling productive helps her foster uninterrupted free play.

Later, Jeannie gathered the mothers and young children with a song, formed a circle, and proceeded to lead the group through a delightful circle time. We sang sweet songs with darling hand movements, and although the songs and poems were not familiar to us, she sang each of the songs twice and the children were visibly engaged. It was fun and made all the mothers happy; and the children were randomly giggling and smiling too. The occasion was so joyous we did not want to leave. What we noticed about Jeannie is her love and appreciation for the children, and connection that she has with the moms. We were glad to hear that she posts all the lyrics and often even videos of her circle time at her blog http://www.womantalk.org.

Jeannie has led a Waldorf-inspired weekly parent-toddler playgroup for the last two years. Based on that experience, combined with her 10 years of teaching experience in the public school system and her love of the outdoors, Jeannie is now teaching a forest kindergarten for Earthroots Field School in Orange County, California. An all-new program, children ages 3-6 spend five hours outdoors singing, exploring, and learning in the woods, along with their parents.   It’s a program to connect children with nature. Jeannie developed the curriculum for this program, which incorporates original stories focused on the local natural  world of southern California, written by Caroline Colesworthy, Jeannie’s co-instructor for the forest kindergarten.

While Jeannie’s daughter just graduated from a public high school and is currently a freshman at UCLA, we discovered that Jeannie is an avid supporter of homeschooling, and more specifically, unschooling. Bella was homeschooled until 7th grade, and Jeannie worked this summer at the Not-Back-to-School Camp, the unschooling homeschool camp founded by Grace Llewellyn, the author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook. Jeannie has been supporting attachment parenting mothers for years, first as a La Leche League Leader, last year as the main organizer of an attachment parenting meetup group, and now through teaching for Earthroots.

To balance all her social  interaction, Jeannie enjoys peaceful time in the outdoors, hiking and camping; and also contemplating contemporary art. We were surprised to discover that Jeannie has a master’s degree in Art Theory and Criticism from Art Center College of Design and that she frequently writes art reviews for spare cash!

Jeannie’s philosophies of raising her children are awe-inspiring to us.  She practices attachment parenting and spends a lot of time with them. Both her babies were born at home. She mentioned that Bella wore cloth diapers, but ran naked most of her first three years, which made it much easier for potty transitioning.  With Christian, she practiced elimination communication. We asked Jeannie if she is raising Christian differently than Bella and she confidently said that she was raising Christian exactly the same way – with very little television/screen media and plenty of time outdoors. She has no fear of judgment by others and goes with her personal values and instincts. It’s no wonder that so many mothers turn to her for parenting advice.  Well, look at her and her daughter; Bella is a happy, confident, successful, loving person who is going to college on a scholarship.  Jeannie must be doing something wonderful to inspire her children to bring out the best in themselves.

To learn a bit more about Jeannie and what she is up to visit her website www.WomanTalk.org