The Importance of Getting Young Children Out In Nature
As parents, you are probably as concerned as I am that your children get the very best education possible. We know that childhood can be a challenging time and we want our children to be well prepared for the world in which they live. An important part of providing quality education lies with children’s experiences outside of school. Think back for a moment to your own first memories of childhood from age 3 or 4. What comes to mind? “Go play outside” is what I was told on a daily basis as a child raised on the farm. Those joyful childhood experiences about the world of nature, engulfing all of my five senses on a daily basis between the important ages of 3 to 5, were the foundation for my formal education in school.
Creating Memories for your Child
It is important to provide memories that could be cherished forever by your children. The most important gift you could give your young children is the simplest and least expensive of all. It is the sheer time, opportunity, and joy of being a child exploring the natural world. This time can be spent in your yard, in the park near you, in the container garden on your fifth floor balcony, or on the playground, with no cash expense .
Let Your Child Play
The hurried pace of society is deleting play, especially outdoor play, from the childhood experience. Organized activities, while having their own rightful place in a child’s life, are not the same as free, self-selected, spontaneous play, play that is unorganized and unstructured by an adult. It is during this unstructured time that children unwind, relax, focus, and refresh. It is during this time that they develop the skills of leadership and conflict resolution. When the brain has a chance to process the day’s information, the child develops habits of the mind, heart, and soul – thinking, creativity, loving, and learning.
How do we restore our children’s connection to nature in what Stephen Kellert (2005) calls a “built environment,” an environment of concrete, stone, and electrical outlets where anything “green” continually gives way to more highways, more housing developments, more strip malls, more high rises, and more condos? Look into the No Child Left Inside Act recently approved by the U.S. House of Representatives or read the findings of Lowell Monke in Breaking Down the Digital Walls: Learning to Teach in a Post-Modem World (Burniske & Monke, 2001). You may to begin by taking your child outside.
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