Ep. 104 - The Great Outdoors and SEL, with Maggie O'Reilly, MOT, OTR/L


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“If children are to keep alive their inborn sense of wonder, they need the companionship of at least one adult who can share in their sense of wonder, by rediscovering with them the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in." ~ Rachel Carson

Maggie O’Reilly is an Occupational Therapist (OT) who uses a strengths-based approach, along with evidenced based interventions and curriculums, to enhance young children’s skills and confidence in the great outdoors, including their social, emotional learning and development. Maggie loves outdoor and Nature education so much, in fact, that she chose not to give into her own natural shyness about public speaking so she could share knowledge about all kinds of ways to make the very most of time in Nature with young children. Thank you, Maggie! I loved this conversation.

We started this conversation with an important and inspiring quote from Rachel Carson, then we moved into discussing the very real, but perhaps not-so-obvious benefits, both short term and long term, provided to very young children when they share experiences in Nature with family and other caring adults. I learned so much from Maggie about easy and natural ways to increase children’s awareness about the liveliness all around them when they’re outdoors.

We also talked about the research-based benefits of time spent in natural environments that positively impact children’s mental, physical and social wellbeing.

Even if you’re located in an urban environment, with little access to what is typically considered a natural environment, this conversation with Maggie will expand your awareness about possibilities for enriching the lives of the young children in your care.

First, about Maggie and her website:

Maggie O'Reilly, MOT, OTR/L

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Owner, Occupational Therapist

Live Oak Kids (LOKi)


Facebook/ Instagram


Natural Start Conference and Website

Children and Nature Network

North American Association for Environmental Education

ECHO (Early Childhood Health Outdoors)


Sensory Processing <- Maggie hopes you’ll check out this resource, because there’s so much more to know about this important area of young children’s development that she didn’t have time to explain.

How to Break Up With Your Phone (book)

Article: The importance of outdoor play for young children's healthy development:

The importance of play for children's healthy development is grounded in a strong body of research.1,2,3 As a natural and compelling activity, play promotes cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being, offering the necessary conditions for children to thrive and learn. Through play, the child can experiment, solve problems, think creatively, cooperate with others, etc., gaining a deeper knowledge about his/herself and the world. From an early age, the possibility to experience several opportunities for unstructured play, in which the child can decide what to do, with whom and how, promotes positive self-esteem, autonomy, and confidence.

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