Escape to Nature – April 2011

Did you know that research has proven there is a direct connection between the amount of time children spend in nature and their overall well-being?

According to Samantha Stern, training and development director at Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in Milwaukee, Greenfield, Mequon, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa, “Many studies conducted in recent years have found that children who spend regular time outdoors are healthier than those who do not.  They also have stronger immune systems, fewer symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder, are more creative, are better problem solvers, and have greater respect for themselves and the environment around them.

Stern says the importance of getting your children outside should not be underestimated.  Having unstructured play time in nature where your children can explore their surroundings with all of their senses:  hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting is critical for their overall well-being.

Getting In Touch With Nature In Your Backyard

   According to Stern, spring is the perfect time to get your little ones outside to explore nature.  “Jumping in puddles, looking for returning birds, and finding flowers that are starting to pop out of the soil are all great activities for children.

She suggests that you also use the spring months as an opportunity to start a small garden with your children either in pots or right in the ground.

“Vegetables like tomatoes, beans, and zucchini are very easy to grow, and they offer children so many unique experiences with nature from planting the seeds, to caring for the plant, and harvesting the grown vegetables.  Gardening is a great nature activity for you to do with your children.”

Another way children can enjoy nature is by making a bird feeder and putting it outside with seeds in it.  Then, they can watch for and record all of the different types of birds that stop by to eat.

Getting In Touch With Nature In Your Community

Stern also recommends that you get your children out in your surrounding community to explore nature.

“Milwaukee County has over 140 parks that occupy nearly 15,000 acres that are just waiting for your family to hike and bike through,” says Stern.

“Milwaukee is also blessed with a first-class zoo that allows children to see species from all over the world.  And, the Mitchell Park Domes, Boerner Botanical Gardens, and Schlitz Audubon Center also offer wonderful opportunities for families to get up close with and explore bugs, birds, trees, and wildflowers.”

Stern adds that another great way to experience nature in your community is to take your children to a local farmer’s market or orchards where you can purchase fresh, locally grown produce.  You can then take these items home and make a great meal together.

Ebenezer’s Child Care Center’s Wauwatosa location, located at 10701 W. Research Drive in Wauwatosa (inside the UnitedHealth Group office building), will be hosting a FREE Family Fun Night on “Escape to Nature” on Thursday, April 14th, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.  Nature is important to children’s development – intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically. As children’s connection to and time spent in nature has declined, childhood ailments and medical problems have vastly increased.  Whether it is your own backyard, a local community park, or a national wildlife refuge, there are many wonderful outdoor places you and your family can visit.  Come to this Family Fun Night for lots of great ideas!  Activities will include putting together a starter terrarium, making paper tree pictures, and sorting leaf cut-outs in the science area.  In addition to the activities, you will have the opportunity to enjoy dinner on us!  Registration is required.  Please call 414-643-5070 to register.

Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart.

The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.

Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development:  cognitive, physical, emotional, and social.  In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers a variety of free Family Fun Nights and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.

The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Greenfield, Mequon, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa.  The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee.  For more information, please call 414-643-5070 or visit the agency’s website at