Into the Great Outdoors

Written by: Maryjo Flamm-Miller

Two children playing outdoor with sticks in the soil

Where better to learn new things while appreciating the beauty of nature and learning to challenge ourselves than the great outdoors?

Imagine yourself standing in the middle of an arena at center court. You squint at the brightness of the overhead lights. All around you the seats are empty. Unseen, someone is whistling. You hear the sound of sweeping and laughter but it feels disorienting because you cannot see who or where the sounds are originating. It is overwhelming and a little bit scary.

When young children, with their very limited life experience, are taken outdoors to play, a similar thing happens. They remain near their familiar grown-ups, reluctant to explore because the sensory stimulation and wide-open space feels mind-boggling, very different from small indoor spaces. Only with repeated exposure will children develop an enthusiasm for the natural world and the opportunity to move their bodies in big ways, to notice minute details, and thrill to the freedom. As children age, they embrace their growing self-reliance and curiosity outdoors.

A child blowing bubbles

Over time, children develop more skills that enable them to climb, swing, leap. Their dexterity allows for digging, scooping, moving heavy objects, and constructing. All the sensations that wind, water, and soil provide become elemental playthings outdoors. Who hasn’t smiled while watching children digging in sand or sloshing water with such concentration that they do not even hear their own names being called? Allowed more and more time in nature, children’s imagination and self-concept bloom. They discover the world is an expansive place, ripe with possibilities and interesting things. They discover their own capabilities.

There is a fun program for families called DISCOVERY GARDEN which provides children of all ages, parents, and grandparents weekly mornings of open-ended play. The outdoor summer session runs for twelve weeks, May 6 – July 22, in Chillicothe’s Yoctangee Park every Thursday from 9:30 am – Noon.

Adults and children running under a parachute

This pop-up playground affords families opportunities to socialize and enjoy being with each other. Discovery Garden also offers water and bubble play, a mud kitchen, ball and target games, building hide-outs, art experiences, parachute games, singing, and storytelling each week. Lots of fresh air, shady trees, and room to run. Always free and open to the public. Parking and restrooms conveniently located close by.

Celebrating 15 years in 2021, Discovery Garden is pleased to be an Easterseals program, enriching the lives of families and helping children grow confidently.

Discovery Garden Family Playgroup

“Connecting People, Nurturing Family Relationships”

Serving Ross County families since 2006. 

Partnering with Easterseals Central & Southeast Ohio, Inc. in 2021: Chillicothe & Ross County Public Library, United Way of Ross County, Junior Civic League of Chillicothe, Burton E. Stevenson Fund, Chillicothe Parks & Recreation Department.

Dad & Me Adventures

“Involved Fathers Have Happy Children”

Celebrating Fatherhood since 2008. 

Partnering with Ross County Community Action Commission & Head Start since 2015.

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