By Meghann Dibrell of Practically Hippie
In a climate of fast-paced, high-tech learning as the gold standard, does nature have a place in a child’s education?
Research shows that children are happier, healthier, more confident, and less anxious when they regularly spend time outdoors.
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6 Powerful Ways Nature Surpasses the Classroom
When we can break free from the four walls of a classroom, we burst out into real world where nature is richly inspiring and the source of all knowledge.
Even the best-laid lesson plans can’t compete with the ingenuity and complexity of what mother nature has to offer in nature’s classroom.
1. Sensory Experiences
Children learn best through experience with the world around them. A child uses his five senses to explore his surroundings and gains knowledge purely through exposure.
In a classroom, experiential learning must be manufactured. Multi-sensory approaches are often used for children with attention and learning struggles. But all kids can benefit from multi-sensory learning.
Nature has gifted us with a learning experience that readily incorporates all of the senses. Just picture the changing landscape with each new season, the softness of fresh grass, the earthy smell after a heavy rain, the sweetness of ripe wild berries, the sound of water trickling in a brook.
Meghann of Practically Hippie also has a wonderful seasonal guide subscription called Rooted Childhood. Let Meghann help you bring the nature of each season alive in your home.
With the world at her fingertips, a child’s natural curiosity is ignited. We can prepare lessons and materials on any subject, and yes, some learning will probably take place.
But this passive knowledge gained will never surpass what a child can learn by asking her own questions and discovering the answers first hand.
Nature is a judgment-free zone where kids can be themselves, take risks, try new things, and fail without an audience. When we step outdoors, we leave behind anxiety-inducing exams and exercises designed to discover everything our children don’t know.
There are infinite ways to interact with the outdoor environment, whether that’s in your, backyard, at the beach, or on a trail through the forest. When children interact with nature in a personal way, they are working through problems, testing assumptions, and challenging themselves in ways a standardized test could never measure.
So much of a child’s life is adult-directed, but nature provides a safe space for a child’s imagination to reign. Unstructured, free play is essential to a child’s development.
It’s no surprise that so many works of art, literature, poetry, and music were inspired by nature. We even have nature to thank for many modern inventions- just think of DaVinci’s flying machine inspired by the magical flight of birds.
Experience yields something so valuable to a child’s education- relevance. Learning through books, even great ones, can only take a child so far. Children need first-hand experiences with the world because that is how they will find their place in it.
Learning from the outdoors isn’t just about nature study or science, the experience will make every single subject more relevant to a child and help ignite the desire for more knowledge.
Spending time outdoors allows a child to build a relationship with nature. They learn to be gentle and caring.
Children with a deep sense of connection to nature are likely to continue caring about the world as adults. They are the future we need to preserve the Earth and all its beauty.
Making Time for Nature
Spend more time outdoors by making it a part of your family culture.
Set a goal to spend time outside every day, even if it’s just a few minutes to start. Trust in nature and your children by providing ample free time to learn exactly what they need to learn during their self-directed play and exploration.
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