Lodi Enterprise: The Lodi School Board approved Nurtured in Nature, a learning initiative that encourages kindergarteners to play, be outside and just be kids at its regular meeting Sept. 11.
Kids are under greater pressure to achieve high standards, and most are so overscheduled they don’t have time to simply be children, Lodi Elementary Guidance Counselor Val Bilkey said. Bilkey introduced the unanimously-approved program to the board via PowerPoint presentation.
Research also shows that young children who engage in some form of unstructured play have better language and social skills, the ability to empathize with their peers and achieve higher levels of thinking, she said during her presentation. Being out in nature reaps many benefits of their own, she said, including reduced anxiety and improved cognition.
“We are already noticing a difference in our students when they are engaged in free play versus when they are in a classroom setting or even outside at recess,” Bilkey wrote in an email. “They communicate, problem-solve, work together and are better able to naturally self-regulate.”