Do children need nature connection?

Our children are on restricted schedules, with child care, schools and extracurricular activities they can hardly find time to go out and enjoy the world outside. Even if the children are outdoors, their activities are usually structured, and are not filled with free adventure and engagement with nature. Often, outdoor experiences are for a short period of time only. As adults working with young children, not only do we need to find ways to support our own connection with nature, but the children’s as well.

Children begin to wonder in nature. Natural materials such as butterflies, grass, rocks, leaves, rain, spider webs, sticks, frogs, fossils, dirt, seashells, pebbles, and sand provide endless possibilities for play and imagination. These materials don’t come with directions: The children come up with ideas of how to use them. What are they? What can they do? How do they feel? What do they look like? How does it move? How does it grow? What can I do with this?

Nature provokes children into thought, action, and formulating their own ideas. When children are involved in experiences with nature, they are fascinated m captivated and completely attentive to what is at hand. This exposure to nature can be simply going for a walk, playing in the yard, or hiking in the woods. There are many advantages to all types of exposure to nature.

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