Do you ever sit under a tree just listening to the sounds of nature around you? For how long? A few minutes? An hour? A whole afternoon?

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In 2005, author Richard Louv in his book “Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder” hypothesized negative consequences to people and to society as we spend less time outdoors in the natural world. In 2007, the Society for Conservation Biology published research that draws a connection between children’s increasing consumption of electronic media and declining visits to National Parks.

Without romanticizing history, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, “free and unstructured play is healthy and – in fact – essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.”

Spring in the Northern Hemisphere is recognized as a time of re-birth and new beginnings in many cultures. From Pesach and Easter to Nowruz and Higan, images in nature represent these holidays connected to the spring equinox.

Submit your photos of time in nature with your family on our FB page or write to us in the comments below!

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
-Henry David Thoreau

The Value of Camping

October 2, 2014

Have you ever wondered why thirty-eight million Americans went camping in 2012[*] for a total of 516.6 million days? What motivates modern urban dwellers to leave the comforts of home in exchange for rustic cabins and tents?

One study in New Zealand found that campers like to go back to basics. “They felt there was a lot more like-minded people around who were family oriented. It’s a real communal lifestyle, because it’s an environment in which you bump into people more,” University of Otago researcher Jonathan Ryan said.

The American Journal of Public Health released a study in 2004[†] which concluded that “Green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children across a wide range of individual, residential, and case characteristics.”

At Walden School, the Ponderers’ annual camping trip gives students in grades 4 through 6 the opportunity to spend time together in fresh air scented by trees and ocean breezes. Socializing in multi-age Ponderer groups, the Upper Core enjoys learning and bonding that contributes to healthy and happy peer relationships.

Camping activities are designed to be both physically and intellectually stimulating. Beyond the obvious benefit of exercising through hiking and swimming activities, Ponderers also experience challenges and have time for reflection that can reduce the stress of everyday, scheduled life in the 21st century. By working together to put up a tent, a sense of accomplishment and confidence is fostered. Taking turns to cook communal meals together also cultivates teamwork and trust.

And getting a good night’s sleep in a tent with your friends after a fun-filled day of camping endeavors feels really good! The Ponderers’ annual camping trip is experiential in nature, and provides opportunities for leadership and risk taking. In promoting environmental sustainability, the Ponderers demonstrate their shared commitment to the value of being responsible expeditioners.

Click here to watch a video of the 2014 Ponderers’ Camping Trip. 

[*] http://www.outdoorfoundation.org/pdf/research.camping.2013.pdf

[†] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448497/

First Day of School

September 4, 2014

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South Yard playground before school

“Perhaps I should give some account of myself. I would make education a pleasant thing both to the teacher and the scholar. This discipline, which we allow to be the end of life, should not be one thing in the schoolroom, and another in the street. We should seek to be fellow students with the pupil, and should learn of, as well as with him, if we would be most helpful to him.” [Henry David Thoreau to Orestes Brownson, 30 December 1837]

 

School teachers were happy to be back together this fall after a busy summer of professional development conferences, in-services, and workshops. On the First Day of School, returning and new K-6th grade students eagerly gathered early on the Walden playgrounds to greet their teachers on this cool September morning. The Pre-Kindergarten students will begin their school year a few days later on Monday.

 

Walden faculty traveled to summer conferences focused on social-emotional learning, writing and reading workshops, Responsive Classroom, math skills, mindfulness, and many other topics. Walden School believes that teaching students to be academically capable, insightful, and passionate learners requires teachers to pursue their own interests with passion and determination. As teachers model mastery of traditional academic skills, they can better guide students to apply newly acquired skills to a variety of situations in creative and discerning ways. As students discover the interrelatedness of what they are learning, along with their teachers, they are inspired to find deeper answers to their questions.

 

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North Yard as students line up for first day of classes

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Headed into the classrooms

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Parents look on as North Yard teachers begin leading students into classrooms

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K/1 Assistant Teacher Matt Little high-fives one of his students

K/1 Lead Teacher Joe Braxton shares a laugh with Walden parent Dwana Willis

K/1 Lead Teacher Joe Braxton shares a laugh with Walden parent Dwana Willis

 

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First Morning Circle

 

 

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