Nurturing Children’s Connection to Nature

By kfg_admin

There is no better place for children to learn than the outdoors, and there is no better play resource than nature!

Children are innately connected to nature and reap great benefits as they grow attached and appreciate the natural environment.  Yet often in our structured and technologically advanced world, along with harsh outdoor temperatures for a significant period of the year, the role and joy of outdoor play that many of us experienced as children is being lost.

The benefits of nature-led learning for children are well documented.  Through practical experiences in nature children learn to use their imaginations more and develop their thinking and problem-solving skills in a developmentally appropriate manner led by their own interests and drive. 

Playing outdoors grows resilience, self-confidence, initiative, creativity and more.  It encourages the joy of movement; it nurtures wild imaginations, experimentation, friendships and social connections.  Many of these advantages of nature-led learning as children, also resonate into adulthood.  The connection between these skills and the characteristics that will contribute to success later in life are clear to see.

Tips for getting started with nature-led learning with your children

As we are embracing the cooler months here in Dubai, here are some useful starting points:

  1. Get outside!  You don’t have to overthink and you don’t always have to have a pre-prepared agenda or activity.  Exploring in nature is meant to be fun and some of the most joyous moments can be very spontaneous and simple.  Such as your child quietly observing an ant or finding their favourite shell on the beach.
  2. Structure your day to allow for more outdoor time.  Choose the cooler parts of the day often early in the morning, late afternoon or weekends.  This also allows for flexibility throughout the day to accommodate other scheduled activities.
  3. Trust your children.  It is a natural instinct for parents to want to keep children as safe as possible and protect them from injury or harm.  Support your children to take manageable risks in climbing and balancing etc.  Gauge when to ‘step-in’ and when to ‘step-back.’
  4. Connect with other families.  Enjoy outdoor time in nature with other families who also value exploring nature with their children.
  5. Bring Nature Home.  Create a nature rich environment for children at home.  Offer resources that connect to or help children make sense of their experiences in nature.  The most effective materials for this are “loose parts” such as pebbles, sticks, shells, pinecones etc. They are open-ended so children can use them for multiple purposes in their play.

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