Let the Children Play

As a pediatric occupational therapist with many years of learning in both formal and informal ways about early child development, I have developed some personal “guiding rules:”

  • A child’s relationship to his/her mommy/daddy/loving adult is primary.
    • Our role with an infant is to nurture and protect. Easy. The not-so-easy role is the gradual changes that should occur during childhood where parents step back and allow the child to learn from their own experiences. Allowing a child to take a risk; difficult.
  • A child’s relationship to “Mother Nature” is a key component of development.
    • For babies, this refers to gravity. As a society we have “over-containered” babies: infant seats, strollers, swings. Babies need to move and maximize the time they are playing on the floor.
    • Children, too, need to move. Run. Climb. Roll down a hill. The evidence is in and it indicates that these activities promote far more than physical development.
  • The architecture of the brain is established by our early experiences. We are sensory beings. Information gets into the brain by the sensory systems. Some of these are not widely recognized by everyone such as the proprioceptive system (information from our muscles and joints) and the vestibular system (information about movement and how we relate to gravity). They are vital components of our development.
  • Play IS a child’s occupation. As an occupational therapist, I have frequently been asked how occupation relates to children. Play is the answer. Not all play is created equally. We must choose those opportunities that allow children to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills while having fun. We want to stimulate their imagination and creativity.

Knowing the above, it will not be surprising that I was very excited to learn about TimberNook. It knows, understands and supports my “guiding rules.”

Tagged as the Ultimate Sensory Experience, TimberNook is both a philosophy and curriculum. Set in the outdoors, Mother Nature is used as a “third teacher” to provide an environment where children can have authentic play experiences. With multiple options for programming, TimberNook can serve toddlers from 18 months-4 years (Tiny Ones) in a parent-child setting, and 4-7 year olds (Little Wild Ones) and 7-12 year olds (Wild Ones) in a child-and-staff setting.

Excentia is excited to announce that we are now a TimberNook provider and will be doing programming in 2019! We are working in partnership with the Lancaster County Conservancy to use Climbers Run Nature Preserve as our site. This unique location will have an area specifically planned to facilitate “play the TimberNook way” as well as the existing trails, meadows, a stream, and forested areas.

Head over to our TimberNook Facebook page and click the ‘Like’ button to stay informed as we roll out the plans for next year. We will also start posting more detailed articles about subjects that support the philosophy of TimberNook of Lancaster County!

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