As the owner and teacher at a preschool located in a country setting, I have observed the benefits and wonders of nature for Preschoolers. Children who experience nature and an outdoor learning environment will find this contributes to their healthy development. With our children having access to modern technology, there is little time in their lives to connect with the multitude of delights of creation
As an educator, I ensure that the children who attend my countrypreschool become close to nature and are exposed to weekly nature walks, which includes river walks, gazing at fish and ducks swimming by, playing under the shade of trees, tossing autumn leaves, observing bird life, picking dandelions and wild flowers, selecting acorns, playing in the sand with sticks, collecting pine cones, running in the forests, playing hide and seek, having open ended discussions about nature and much more.
We also enjoy playing the “I spy game’; encouraging children to see the natural wonders in nature. These weekly nature activities give children great pleasure, with direct hands on experience and develop a reference for life that cannot be fostered as profoundly in any other way, resulting in a sense of calmness, increased physical activity, lifting moods and celebrating the beauty of nature. Regular family outings, where children are exposed to natural settings is essential for the well being of children.
An overwhelming body of studies has shown that play in green areas has a multitude of benefits such as:
- Cognition (Wells, 2000)
- Academics (American Institutes for Research, 2005)
- Reducing ADHD symptoms (Kuo and Taylor, 2004).
- Creativity (Bell and Dyment, 2006)
- Eyesight (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2011)
- Social relations improvement (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005).
- Self discipline (Taylor, Kuo and Sullivan, 2001)
- Stress reduction
“It is also necessary for his psychical development to place the soul of the child in contact with creation, in order that he may lay up for himself treasure from the directly educating forces of living nature.” Maria Montessori Maria Montessori would agree with the movement to expose children to the outdoors. She placed a great emphasis on nature and nature education.
Dr. Montessori also felt that the outdoor environment should be an extension of the classroom.