engagement and persistence
The word “engagement” carries with it the sense of both connection and
commitment. For example, when a couple becomes engaged, it implies that they
are deeply connected, focused on each other, and eager to sustain and nurture
that connection. Similarly, when children are truly engaged with an idea, with
materials, with an activity, or with another child, they are focused and actively
cultivating that connection. This wanting to “stick with something” is what persis-
tence is all about. When children care about what they are doing, they stay with it
and are willing to overcome distractions, difficulties, setbacks, and challenges.
The outdoors supports this standard because the natural world is a place
defined by connection. Everything is connected to everything else. Children
love to be outside where they feel a natural connection to everything: plants,
animals, clouds, water, rocks. . . . When the milkweed blooms, the monarchs
appear. When the weather turns cooler in the fall, the birds fly south. When the
rain falls, puddles collect. With little effort, the outdoors unfolds itself to chil-
dren and invites them to simply choose how they want to engage with it.
Why is the engagement and persistence standard important
for healthy child development?
Children are active, concrete learners. They learn best in situations that are
hands-on and that enable them to investigate, ask questions, and devise pos-
sible solutions. It is natural for children to demonstrate engagement and
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