Brendan Largay, Head of School

A Walk in the Woods

If you look to the left as you drive up the driveway, just before Far Field begins, you will see a structure—I liken it to a wooden version of an old VW bus sitting driverless in the woods—constructed by our intrepid fourth graders. The construction is a showcase of student imagination during recess on these wonderfully mild early spring days. It is also a reminder of how nature and the outdoors play an important instructional role here at Belmont Day.

A glance at the interior courtyard, and you feel as though you have stumbled into a nature exhibit at the Boston Children’s Museum, with trees and bushes decorated with colored pieces of paper stuck on various branches by our youngest learners. A place of true discovery for any visitor (young and old!), the courtyard remains a constant reminder of the power of a child’s imagination and the important and positive influence that nature and outdoor play have on a child’s development.

Middle school athletics are in full swing. Disc golf, mountain biking, tennis, and lacrosse (modified for safety) are daily occurrences on our fields and courts. The joyful noise of children playing reminds us of just how important the seasons can be, especially after the restriction of this past winter.

Truly, spring has sprung here at Belmont Day. Arriving just in time, the second leg of the BDSQuest will surely affirm how much we can learn from the variety and richness of nature. As many in our community will be traveling the countryside, a small faculty team will be here to wake up our community garden under the watchful eye of Kathy Jo Solomon and our greening committee.

Here’s the thing about our relationship to the outdoors: it is a data-backed, evidence-oriented truth that play and interactivity with nature and the outdoors are good for children, their development, and their learning. Richard Louv’s 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods, made a compelling case that children were developing what he termed a ‘Natural Deficit Disorder’ due to spending less and less time outdoors. And consider that Last Child in the Woods was published two years before the iPhone was invented. While Louv hasn’t followed up with a sequel, it’s hard to imagine that he would feel much differently today, especially as we emerge from the challenges of winter in a pandemic.

So, whether you are planning on participating in the BDS Quest or not, it is my sincere hope that you are making the most of these beautiful days to get outside and play. The outdoors is—certainly for your child, and perhaps for you as well—as boundless as your imagination. Get out there and have some fun.

Enjoy the Quest!

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