Do you remember when you were a child rolling around on the grass, immersing your hands in the dirt, picking flowers, building forts, and simply being one with nature? Every day? All-day? Me too.
How interesting it is to ask an adult these questions and more often than not they will reply with a memory of being outdoors with family and friends. It is experiences like this that enabled us to have an appreciation for the natural environment and its many uses. In 1991, Rachel Sebba published the article, “The Landscapes of Childhood: The Reflection of childhood’s environment in adult memories and in children’s attitudes” where the notion of strong connections between the quality of a child’s experience and the way in which it remains in their memory as they grow older are discussed. This demonstrates how significant nature play really is and why it needs to be embedded early in the lives of children.
With this in mind, it is crucial to reflect on where the importance of nature lies with children today. It appears that children are increasingly busy more than ever, however, where their attention lies seems to be the real question. The reality is that the majority of children in their early years have shifted their focus away from nature play itself and are more attentive to the newest toys on the market, watching television or spending time with their phones.
Eventually, these children will be adults and sadly their favourite memory will not nearly be as wonderful as the adults of today. Even more disappointing, they will not know the potential of being outdoors and engaging with nature itself so what does the future hold for their child? An even bigger question is why are the adults with such fond memories of being connected with nature the ones who are disabling children’s need to be outside?
Thankfully, the early childhood educators at Turtletot Childcare Bexley play a dominant and operative role in ensuring children are engaging with the natural environment in meaningful and purposeful ways. Early childhood educators recognize the sensory, sustainable human impact on the natural environment and relationships between living and nonliving things as some but not all of the learning opportunities presented to children due to being outdoors.
Outdoor play spaces should feature natural ground surfaces, flexible equipment, vegetable gardens, creek beds and so much more that inspire the child’s creativity, imagination, and understanding of the world environment.
Not only is it pertinent to a child’s learning, but the link between the natural environment and the child’s immune system also has never been more important. Garry Hamilton published the article “Let them eat dirt” in 1998 highlighting the link of increasing health issues surrounding children due to parents having an over the top hygiene fetish with chemicals that not only harm the environment but harm the health and immunity of their children.
What we encourage at Turtletot Childcare Bexley is to let children outside into the natural environment and explore. Explore the greenery, let them dig their hands in the dirt, roll on the grass, smell the flowers, taste the tomatoes, and watch how positive the child's learning and behaviour becomes.
For a child to do this with an adult makes it that much more meaningful and worthwhile. Why don’t you go ahead and give it a try and challenge yourself to notice how refreshed and focussed you become. Turtletot Childcare Bexley is extremely focused on engaging children with nature and manifest incredible memories and learning.
So let's start playing!
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