Richard Louv and the Children and Nature Network aspire to create "A world in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives (C&NN)." As an early childhood teacher, I know that I can help be a contributor of this vision. Thus creating Wild Tykes.
Wild Tykes is a free community event in the St. Louis area that provides opportunities for children of all ages to visit local wild spaces. I have reached out to area educators to help me with the vision, and we have put together an amazing team of volunteer teachers to support these bimonthly events.
Yesterday, we had our first event at Castlewood State Park in Ballwin, MO, USA. Our topic of the day was water as the children were encouraged to use recycled materials to explore the creek. Also available was watercolor painting using water from the stream, and aquatic animal field guides with magnifying glasses.
We were so excited to have a wide range of ages from infants to elementary schoolers. As expected, these children all came with different comfort levels. Some children worried about getting wet, while others were fearless and barefoot. All were encouraged to have fun at their own comfort level.
Parents were grateful for such an amazing opportunity. One mother told me they had a moth in their house recently that the children were afraid of. The next day, she saw our event on facebook and decided that they needed more exposure to the natural world. Often times we are afraid of things because we know nothing about it. By encouraging these children to get out into nature, they will no longer fear it.
"If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it," -David Sobel