“When the child goes out, it is the world itself that offers itself to him. Let us take the child out to show him real things instead of making objects which represent ideas and closing them up in cupboards.” – Dr. Maria Montessori
How important is to connect children to nature?
Spring is here, a great time to connect children to the nature!
Children today spend a lot of time learning indoors from textbooks and computers. Fishing, hiking, gardening, basketball, and biking have been replaced by television, computer games and video games. Instead of challenging their brains in healthy and productive ways, children are passive recipients during these activities.
Montessori schools have a long history of advocating for children to enjoy hands-on experiences with nature. There are numerous ways that contact with nature, especially through unstructured and imaginative play, can benefit children and contribute to their development.
Some of the benefits include:
- Greater physical health
- Increased creativity
- Reduced stress
- More concern for other living things
- Greater awareness of the natural environment
What can we do to connect children to nature?
A growing body of evidence suggests that contact with nature is “as important to children as good nutrition and adequate sleep”. As parents, teachers, and adults in the community, we are responsible for providing these opportunities for future generations. They do not need to be “plugged in” to technology at all times.Even the littlest babies can begin to love and respect the natural world. “Infants delight in the sights and sounds of nature, which offer constant variety and interest but are not over-stimulating. These very early experiences captivate their interest and support their curiosity and comfort with nature”.
- Pick apples/berries and vegetables on a farm
- Play on natural & adventure playgrounds
- Feed ducks/geese in a pond
- Make a mini garden
- Read books outside in your garden
- Make a bird feeder and put water and food inside to attract birds to your yard
- Go on a hike that includes a scavenger hunt
- Spend a night, or even a few hours, camping in your backyard
- Walk your dog (if you have one)
- Build a campfire, tell stories and eat s’mores
- Pick up trash around the neighborhood
- Bird watching in your backyard
- Collect lightning bugs and then release them (this is one of their favorite)
- Keep a treasure basket full of things collected from outside
- Visit the animals at a farm or zoo
- Describe the shapes of clouds
- Fly a kite
- Have a picnic or BBQ with friends
- On a hot sunny day, make your little one wash his/her little bike with soap, water and a sponge
- Have some bubble fun