Let's get them into nature then.
According to David Sobel, Nature Schools have a few specific characteristics in common:
According to the Natural Start Alliance, a program by the National American Association for Environmental Education, to be considered a nature preschool, the school must:
“put nature at the heart of the program,
it must be based on high-quality early childhood education and environmental education practices,
and it must also help lay a foundation for environmental literacy”
Play has the potential to:
contribute to cognitive development and social skills
(Burdette, H., Whitaker, R., 2005).
provide opportunities to fully experience objects, sounds, and their environment (Berk, L., 2006).
allow children to experience movement, creativity, and friendship (Burdette, H., Whitaker, R., 2005).
provide opportunities to engage in all types of play – functional, solitary, constructive, parralell, make-believe, social, and games with rules
(Berk, L., 2006).
give children necessary stimulation – while avoiding over-stimulation
(Berk, L., 2006).
increase inventiveness, creativity, and the possibility of discovery due to the use of variables (loose parts) (Nicholson, S. 1971).
improve children’s attention, affiliation, and affect (Burdette, H., Whitaker, R., 2005).
allow opportunities for decision making that stimulate problem solving and creativity (Burdette, H., Whitaker, R., 2005).
Allow children “child-centered freedom” that allows exploration through multiple senses and intelligences (Sobel, 2017).
provide twice as much play and more creative play than non-green outdoor space (Faber Taylor, A., et al. (1998).
Families invested in nature.
Adults that facilitate play.
And that’s all there is to it.
Children in the Nature of Americans survey listed their special places in nature – most of which were backyards, nearby woods and gardens, while adults usually classified ‘true’ nature as a place requiring solitude and travel – creating a less accessible definition than children (Nature of Americans, 2019).
A key feature of a forest kindergarten, according to the Scottish Forestry Commission, is “regular, frequent contact in the same setting over a significant period of time… in all weathers” (Sobel, 2017). And in many studies, as in the study by Tayor & Butts-Wilmsmeyer, found that as frequency and total minutes in green spaces increased, so did the benefits (2020).
Adult environmental activism requires practicing environmental activism as a child (Sobel, 2008).
Care must extend to the local nature and then to global nature (Sobel, 2008).
find a nature school near you:
© Caity Peterson 2022