Science Shows That Nature Makes Kids Happier—Here’s How To Take Advantage, Even During Social Distancing
Science Shows That Nature Makes Kids Happier—Here’s How To Take Advantage, Even During Social Distancing
A recent study shows that enjoying time in nature makes children happier overall, as well as more environmentally and socially responsible. It’s welcome news during this pandemic, because nature can often offer a way to venture out of the home with family while practicing social distancing.
The research, published in Frontiers in Psychology, surveyed almost 300 children between the ages of 9 and 12 in a Mexican city. The results showed that the children who felt more connected to nature—for example, those who liked to look at wildflowers or take care of animals—scored higher on the happiness scale. Plus, they were more likely to engage in behavior that helps others and helps the environment.
Those who already love the outdoors won’t be surprised by the study results. For both kids and adults, spending time in nature can reduce stress while providing unique opportunities for exercise and learning. And during this time of closed schools and canceled activities, recommended or mandated social distancing, and high levels of uncertainty over health and economic factors, we could all use some of those benefits.
But what kinds of outdoor activities are permitted during the COVID-19 pandemic? The answer depends on your geographic location as well as your and your family members’ health risk factors. As Daniel Griffin, M.D., Ph.D., an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University Medical Center, told CNN, “For now, perhaps we will need to leave the outdoors to the young and healthy.” Most importantly, if you are sick or had contact with someone who is sick in the last 14 days, stay home.
But if you are not high-risk, many localities are still permitting residents to spend time outdoors as long as you are able to maintain the recommended six-foot distance from other people (besides the people from your household). That means that going for walks or hikes, running around open fields or parks, and exploring off-season beaches are all great ways to shake up the family routine—just check first to make sure your outdoor destination is still open to the public. If you arrive and the area is already crowded enough that keeping your distance might be a challenge, it’s best to turn around and visit another time.
If you have access to private outdoor space, now is also a good time to work together in the garden, pitch a tent or fort in the backyard, have a picnic on the balcony, or get creative with chalk on the patio. If you don’t have a yard and the streets are typically crowded, consider taking walks either early in the morning or at dusk. With older kids, you can even go out after dark and start learning more about the constellations or phases of the moon.
When you do venture out, however, be sure to take extra precautions. Avoid public restrooms and water fountains, and try not to touch surfaces such as fences and benches. Besides following all local health guidelines during the pandemic, it’s also important to help prevent anyone in your group from getting injured, severely dehydrated, or anything else that would cause them to need medical help at a time when healthcare resources are already stretched thin.
What’s not okay? Playgrounds are off limits because of the current risks associated with too many kids touching the same surfaces and playing in close proximity. Crowded beaches in warm climates are also not okay, because of the high density of people—in fact, many beaches in Florida, California, and elsewhere have been closed for that reason. If you live in a densely populated neighborhood or city, certain parks may not be ideal either, due to the crowds.
Families everywhere have been getting creative with ways to stay active and sane during these challenging times. And some of those new household habits might stick—so if you’re able to safely incorporate nature into your weekly activities, you’ll be giving your kids, and the planet, a long-term boost.
How will you get creative?
Written by Joanna Eng, Originally published at ParentsTogether.Org
How to Stop Being a Control Freak with Your Kids by Tim Elmore
I just spoke to Sharon, a mom who is now teaching her three kids at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first few days were novel and even fun. The adrenaline that flows from doing something new had kicked in. Now, it’s a different story. Sharon told me recently her biggest struggle is wanting to control everything. I can see her point.
Wouldn’t it be nice to:
- Control their attitudes?
- Control their effort in school?
- Control their ambition for studies?
- Control their maturity levels?
Many people admit to being a control freak when I ask audiences to respond to the question. In fact, the number of people who raise their hands to acknowledge their desire for control is growing. More and more people wish they had more control over the situations and people in their life. A growing body of research suggests it isn’t limited to a certain temperament anymore. Most of us want it. It’s actually a form of perfectionism. “A new study published in Psychological Bulletin demonstrates that perfectionism is increasing over time: Today’s youth are more demanding of others, and they are more demanding of themselves. They also feel like other people (e.g., parents) are more demanding of them,” says U.C. Berkeley.
A simple definition for the term “control freak” is: “A person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation.”
What are some common symptoms of this disposition?
Look for these obvious indicators:
- Always correcting people (even children) when they’re wrong.
- Inability to delegate tasks.
- Always want to have the last word.
- Difficulty in admitting you’re are wrong.
- Always judging and criticizing others.
- Poor at collaboration and teamwork.
- Consistent desire to change others.
Why is this a growing reality today?
Consider human history. As time marches on, we’ve increased our ability to control more outcomes in our lives. Centuries ago, people were much more at risk for bad weather, poor health, and dying prematurely. We had less control over our everyday lives.
As the human race has advanced, we gained more control over our:
- Infant mortality.
- Efficiency in our work.
Further, the more we’re able to seize control, the more we expect to do so. We live in heated and air-conditioned homes. We have running water. We drive automobiles. You get the idea. Centuries ago, more realties were out of our control. We didn’t expect to control life. It only makes sense that our 21st-century experience has fostered a controlling mindset.
One of the reasons we struggle so much with COVID-19 is that it’s beyond our control. In fact, it’s scary because it’s out of our control. What do we do when there’s nothing we can do? We are confronted with our sinister selves. We can become a poor version of ourselves.
Use Your Three Buckets Well
Let me challenge you with a simple but profound thought. If you are a bit of a control freak, it’s helpful to remember that every experience in your life fits into one of three buckets:
- It is in your control.
- It is out of your control.
- It is within your influence.
Obviously, each bucket requires a different response from us to lead in a healthy manner. In fact, our trouble comes when we place situations in the wrong bucket. Our children are not in our control, but they are within our influence. The coronavirus is out of our control, but we have some influence on how we handle our own response to it. Today’s weather? Completely out of our control. Too many people experience anguish because they place people and situations in the wrong bucket. Too many people waste sideways energy on items that are out of their control—but they’re trying to control them. We can be tempted to avoid responsibility for items that are in our control which only leads to trouble. We can try to manipulate people and situations that are out of our control, which also leads to trouble. Sound familiar? So, this week, may I recommend you place three buckets in a conspicuous place in your home. You may even want to mark them with the three titles I offered above.
Then, remember these truths:
Bucket One—It is in my control. I must initiate and assume responsibility.
Bucket Two—It is out of my control. I must trust the process and not manipulate it.
Bucket Three—It is within my influence. I must respond wisely, doing what I can.
During our quarantine season, let’s put control on the shelf and enjoy the journey. It’s been said a million times, “I’ve learned that when you try to control everything you enjoy nothing.”
This metaphor, “Three Buckets” is part of a course called: Habitudes For Life-Giving Leaders. If you’d like to check it out, CLICK HERE.
The post first appeared on Growing Leaders.
It’s a Difference in Focus and Goals
Students spend more than 15,000 hours in school from kindergarten through 12th grade. This is an influential amount of time. This means that your decision regarding your child's school is really a 15,000-hour decision. Who will shape your son? Who will influence your daughter? How will God be portrayed? Your choice of school matters greatly and we believe that an excellent education within an accredited Christian school is the best way to prepare your child for life
What does it mean to "teach from a biblical worldview?"
We all have a lens through which we view and understand the world. It forms from your life experiences, and your beliefs and values. It includes what you believe to be true. A biblical worldview means that you examine, evaluate, and make sense of the world through the truth of the Bible. Christian schools teach from a biblical worldview. Christian teachers and coaches integrate biblical values into every program of the school. Teaching from a Christian perspective does not simply mean diagramming Bible verses or studying biblical text as literature. Teaching itself is not just the passing along of information from one person to the next. Our staff and teachers strive to reflect the Person of Christ in the classroom, in grace and truth.
Why is a biblical worldview so important?
History, science, the arts, and every subject, every curriculum, and every teacher has a point of view. There is no such thing as neutral. If a Christian viewpoint is not present, the only other option is a non-Christian viewpoint. Not allowing prayer, not wishing “Merry Christmas” or explaining how God is not involved in history, are just some of hundreds of examples that present God as non-existent or unimportant when this supposedly “neutral” point of view is presented. Children are bombarded with non-Christian messaging from movies, TV, music, social media, academia, and more. We believe that a school should be instrumental in equipping children to understand the truth about life, the world, and their place in it, and that truth includes God.
Yes, but many Christians have gone to public schools and turned out just fine!
No one can deny this. Yet parents must ask themselves, "Is today’s permissive culture what I want for my child?" The difference between a public or non-Christian school and a Christian school is not in the professionalism of its staff or perfection of its student body, but in the focus and goals of its education. That focus and those goals greatly influence the school culture. In a Christian school, students are loved and influenced as they learn by committed Christians sharing the same Biblical values as their parents. Students learn these values not just from Bible class but also from the examples that are modeled and taught by staff members in every school activity. Challenges, conflict, and circumstances are engaged from a Biblical / Christian perspective.
Shouldn't Christians be "out in the real world" making a difference in non-Christian circles? Why segregate themselves in a Christian school?
A quality Christian school should never become an institution that shelters students into a reclusive life. That is not the purpose of Christian education. In fact, the mission of Christian education is to do just the opposite – serve the community and equip students to be transforming influences in the world for Jesus Christ. Field trips, community service and volunteerism are just some of the ways students at a Christian school learn about the world and how to share their faith.
Isn't it the role of the parents and their church to teach the Christian worldview?
A Christian school does not replace the role of the parent or church; a Christian school becomes a partner with the parent and church. Christian parents today too often feel as if they are battling an entire culture in order to raise godly children. Parents increase their effectiveness by widening the circle of influence around their children with other godly adults. At a Christian school, students are taught by faculty and staff who share the same basic values and beliefs as the parents. It is a partnership. Those relationships will have a lasting influence on your child.
What about outcomes? What can I expect once my child leaves CCS?
A 2018 Cardus Education Survey is the most comprehensive study ever done on the outcomes of K-12 Christian education. The study found that Christian school graduates, as compared to graduates from non faith-based schools, charter schools, and public schools, are more outwardly focused individuals with a higher commitment to family, church, and the larger society. They donate significantly more money, are more generous with their time, and participate in far more relief and development services than their peers. They also feel more confident, are more likely to graduate from college, less likely to divorce, and pray and read the Bible more often.
At CCS, we feel these elements are an invaluable part of your child’s education. If you are interested in learning more about Christian education at Coastal Community School, email Nora Huggins: email@example.com
During the recent COVID pandemic, CCS is privileged to be a member of the NWEA assessment community. Our use of NWEA MAP® Growth™ tests in the fall and spring enable us to better understand and support the educational needs of our students.
As NWEA continues to support us, we are sharing some insights on how we are still supporting our students educational goals this summer and into the fall.
Here are 7 Things We Are Working On Right Now to Support Student Growth and Achievement:
1. Know your students before next year starts
Many students and families are experiencing the trauma of unemployment, loss of a loved one to COVID-19, stress from overwork and worry, or increased discord or abuse at home. Even for students lucky enough to avoid major trauma, these uncertain times are not likely to be forgotten easily. All these things may impact students’ ability to learn now and in the fall.
Authentic, supportive relationships between educators and students provide a strong foundation for teaching and learning. Attending to students’ social and emotional needs is equally as important right now as attending to their content area learning needs.
Schools with online platforms and connectivity should encourage teachers to take time now—and in the summer—to use those platforms to connect with their current and future students and ask how things are going with their families. Knowing what students are up against now will put you in a better position to respond to the social and emotional needs of students without delay once the new school year begins.
2. Identify now what standards and curriculum are interrupted by school closure
While an interim assessment will give a good estimate of how much learning was interrupted over the spring and summer, it’s not as useful for telling you what curriculum students are likely to have missed. What content would all students have been exposed to if schools had not closed? Now is the time to address this important question.
Review each grade level’s scope and sequence from the time your school closed to prioritize the key standards, concepts, and skills to formatively assess and plan for in the coming year. This will provide the basis for a framework to address unfinished learning needs.
3. Make a plan to integrate priority standards and curriculum into next year’s scope and sequence
Dialing the time machine back to March 2020 and restarting instruction from there is not the answer. Educators must strive to bridge gaps for students in missed content from the previous school year while teaching grade-level standards in a way that best meets students where they are. Make plans now to determine how you’ll integrate important content from prior grades into the scope and sequence for the coming school year for those students who need it and how you’ll continue to advance learning for students who are ready for grade-level instruction and beyond.
4. Assess priority standards as soon as the year starts
Have formative or teacher-developed assessments ready to go that are designed to assess the key skills and concepts from the prior grade that students are likely to have missed exposure to due to interrupted learning. Classroom formative assessment is a driver for teacher clarity of instruction and student agency in learning. Paired with prioritization of standards and adjustments to scope and sequence, the formative assessment cycle will help educators and students to partner in teaching and learning with more precision about where they need to focus their energies for support and enrichment.
5. Collaborate with colleagues to develop creative schedules that support flexible, small-group instruction
It is highly likely assessments will reveal widely variable student learning needs. Having a plan for addressing differentiated instruction in a strategic way will allow educators to maximize the targeted support students need. Consider building a daily schedule that explicitly carves out a timeframe for teachers to address student learning needs. Teacher teams might consider using interim and diagnostic data to create flexible groups of students with similar learning needs that can meet for targeted instruction.
6. If you are an NWEA partner, look to MAP Growth for help
This is not a time for "solution-itis," a knee-jerk reaction to solving a problem by adopting and implementing a bevy of new things. When things are chaotic, teachers, students, and families need as much stability as possible to be able to respond creatively. Teachers are likely to be most effective with the tools and strategies that are already familiar.
The Learning Continuum linked to MAP® Growth™ can help you find key concepts and skills that students are ready to learn based on their instructional goal area RIT scores. In addition, educators can use the Learning Continuum to connect student RIT scores to the likely missed skills and concepts from prior grades. Armed with this information, educators can give special emphasis to those skills for their students after fall testing, using the unfinished learning needs of students to scaffold instruction to support exposure to grade-level standards and curriculum.
7. Reflect on and lean into what is already working
Rapid changes in daily life and learning environments have been inevitable throughout COVID-19, causing seismic shifts in teaching and learning for teachers, students, and families alike. While instructional resources and products abound, now is the time for districts and schools to hold steady, take inventory, and reflect on what has worked, both across the school year and now.
Find and lean into the successes and assets already in place. Teachers, students, and families need an anchor, and holding firm on using the resources, products, and materials that are tried and true will provide just that: a link to the familiar, the previous normal. All educational stakeholders, especially our students, need that now more than ever.
Original post written by Brooke Mabry and John Cronin, NWEA
For more information, go to: www.nwea.org
If you have questions for the CCS staff, reach out to Nora Huggins, Principal because we'd love to talk with you about our plans for Fall 2020.