As parents, one of our first instincts is to make our kids comfortable, and we learn quickly that our lives are all better overall when we do. When kids are comfortable and happy, no one is crying or yelling. We can be productive and joyful in whatever our activity may be. Nowhere do we understand this more than in nature. It is true that when young kids get uncomfortable in class, our lives get very, very hard. Hard enough to want to want to give up.
In most classes this week, we went on walkabouts to explore our class area. We even ended the week with our school backpacking trip to Hagerman Lake. Sometimes, explorations go great. Other times, they don’t. Sometimes, you walk forever through blazing heat and waist high grass only to find a bee hive at your destination, and have to go back. Sometimes, the whole trail has become a stream, and the only choice is to press forward, cold water filling your boots. Sometimes, you have to keep going when things go wrong.
But how do you “teach” fortitude, endurance, and perseverance? In education, they call it “grit” and studies have shown that it is the number one indicator of student success. One blessing we have from when things get hard outside, is the opportunity to help our kids develop grit. By helping them to overcome cold hands, wet feet, exhaustion, and cactus spines, we are giving them the prowess they need to overcome duress and failure. It’s a rare chance to let them practice resiliency, and they will emerge from that experience with strong feelings of confidence and mastery.
A bunch of crying and upset kiddos tromping through the wilderness is tough to witness and Worldmind ALWAYS supports a parent’s decision to leave class, but before you do, give a moments thought to the power of adversity. These skills are best developed slowly, at a personal pace. If safety isn’t a factor, maybe you will decide to take it moment to moment and see what happens. Maybe it’s still best to go, but don’t leave without remembering all you accomplished that day.
Our parents often question why we take kids into perilous conditions, why not scout ahead before class and plan a safer, fail-proof route. It would be nice to know exactly what was ahead of us on our path in life, to know that we would never slip, fail, or meet with disaster. But we can’t know that in real life, and that’s why we don’t do it when learning outside. If our kids never experience authentic hardship, they can never experience tenacity, or determination, or actualization. Explorers and innovators charge though life no matter what meets them, and so do we.
There is value in both ease and adversity, and we won’t know which it will be if we don’t try. A lot of times, exploring outside is wonderful. Other times, the outcome is different. The key to the outdoors and to life, is not knowing what lays ahead, it’s knowing that we will make it either way.
“Smooth seas don’t make skillful sailors.”- Proverb
Caroline Griesel holds a Bachelors in Zoology with Entomology focus from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has combined 7 years experience in education, including teaching children's English classes in Japan, and being a Para-professional in public schools. She also spent some time in Ecotourism, researching ecological relationships between ants and sea birds, and guiding kayak tours to the research site. She is currently working on a Level 3 Practitioner Certification from the Forest School Association in the UK. A childhood fishing and combing the beaches of Galveston, Texas inspired her to ensure a lifelong connection to nature and self-discovery through nature are possible for everyone. She is an amateur naturalist and adventurer, who loves curating her collection of rocks and minerals, stargazing, and bushcraft.
What Our Clients Are Saying
“While our boys attended Worldmind Nature Immersion School (WNIS), they have shown significant improvement with their emotional intelligence, mental and physical health, and social competence- among other developmental skills emerged through WNIS ECE program. We believe these elements are breakthrough impacts- foundational prerequisites for success in school, the workplace, and developing future environmental stewards in our nature-deficient society. WNIS ECE program shifts core concepts in early childhood development that forces us as parents into rethinking current health and education policies.”
"Our family across ages has been deeply impacted by WNIS, but the most interesting has been our youngest. She was only 4 months old when we began, and spent much of her first winter bundled up on my back at school, but once she could be down there was no stopping her. She exhibits a level of independence that her two older sisters took much longer to come to. She walked sooner, talked sooner, and is easily content with nothing but the elements to play with. As a whole. my children have moved away from the need for any toys in general, and prefer their imaginations. I believe we are as a family much healthier as well. In one of the worst winter seasons currently, and my kids barely have a sniffle. Including my baby."
“WNIS is the kind of place you can leave your child knowing that they will be empathized with, understood, and empowered - rare but highly valued qualities.”