Thanksgiving is a time when many of us gather together with our families and friends. If we are fortunate, it is a day that revolves around cooking and eating much food with our family and friends, and probably watching several football games - perhaps even playing in a game of family football after dinner. It is a special time in part because we gather together, but also because we pause to give thanks. Of course if makes more sense to show gratitude on a regular basis, throughout the year, rather than concentrating it all on Thanksgiving.
The benefits of being outdoors have been proven, both for children and adults. In September 2010 the National Wildlife Federation published an article by Kevin Coyle entitled Create High Performing Students. The research he cites reveals that outdoor education, greener school grounds and more outdoor play time in natural settings contributes to some of the following benefits:
- Usefully employ all of a child’s native intelligences, ranging from math and science smarts to interpersonal communications
- Quantitatively increase student motivation and enthusiasm to learn
- Help students concentrate for longer periods and help mitigate attention deficit problems
- Help students to learn across disciplines and make them better real-world problem solvers
- Measurably improve classroom performance in math, science, reading and social studies.
Every year in June, young children finish the school year, and are ready to begin their summer vacation, ready for a change from the normal structure of a school day. Children need time to relax during the summer months. As Jessica Lahey notes in her June 2014 article in the Atlantic, "unscheduled, unsupervised, playtime is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children."