You probably clicked on this post due to your curiosity about the photo headline. If you have driven down Sicomac Ave/Goffle Hill Road at in the past few weeks you most certainly have noticed this scene with vast amount of trees that have been cut down. Those woods hold many memories for the Schuurman grandchildren; finding fossils, building forts, sledding, and playing in the “stream” that ran alongside my parent’s property after a downpour. My own childhood memories included playing in the woods where the Cedar Hill condominiums are now located. Hours upon hours were spent imagining and creating without a worry in the world (other than a good case of poison ivy now and then). My sisters and I swung on vines and built mud pies. The woods were even home to the family dogs where my father would let them run wild as he walked around. As a student here at Eastern Christian Middle School, I have fond memories of playing softball at recess and building forts in the rock wall that separates our property from the surrounding neighbors.
Several years ago I read Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods and was reminded of the connection between children’s exposure to nature and how essential it for healthy childhood development. Statistics about the effects of lack of outdoor play on children is alarming when we look at the rise in ADD, obesity, and depression. Grades and standardized testing scores may be lowered in schools that don’t offer outdoor time because students don’t have a chance to be creative while also developing those problem solving and decision making skills.
Outdoor play and recess time are valuable parts of the school day and Eastern Christian School values both of these vital parts of your child’s development at any stage. All three campuses have plenty of safe, open space where kids run and participate in our favorite childhood games of elementary school. Even our middle schoolers enjoy an opportunity to hang out with the classmates and enjoy a pick up game of basketball, soccer, and gaga ball! While “recess” isn’t an official part of the high school students’ day, they certainly enjoy a nice day to be able to eat outdoors and work on those social skills or even toss a football around.
Many schools looking to squeeze more academics into their day find Physical Education classes being shortened or completely taken out of the school day. At Eastern Christian School, PE classes are offered at every age and often take place outdoors when the weather or activity permits. An added bonus our sixth graders experience is our newly piloted Experiential Learning program, overseen by teacher Jamie Van Buiten in which students have the benefit of incorporating outdoors with their social studies curriculum.
Louv writes “in nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy, and privacy: a place distant from the adult world, a separate piece.” I am thankful for the memories I formed playing in the woods and running around the neighborhood with my friends, but I am also grateful for the focus EC puts on doing what is best for our students physically, academically, emotionally and spiritually.