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Spending time in nature has significant beneficial effects on our physical, mental and emotional health. From reducing stress to facilitating healing and elevating cognitive functioning, immersing ourselves in the natural world promotes health and well-being for children and adults alike!
Our ECCs believe that children have a right to experience nature with their full senses; to observe, rejoice, explore, take risks, imagine and wonder. Throughout the year our ECC children explore the beautiful nature spaces surrounding our campuses.
Nature is filled with opportunities for children to make discoveries, encounter new challenges, take measured risks and build foundational cognitive and gross motor skills. As they experiment with climbing and walking on uneven surfaces, or sliding down hills, children discover how their body moves in space, building strength and coordination, problem-solving, and engaging in learning through inquiry.
As the children experience autumn leaves falling around them and delight in the changes they are observing, they are also posing complex life-cycle questions about why have the leaves died and whether they will emerge again. Through sharing their observations and theories with one another, children co-construct meaning about the natural world and their relationship to it.
When children are granted access to nature throughout the year they gain an appreciation for its gifts, investigate cycles of life, develop a sense of gratitude for the beauty and sustenance that the earth provides us, and learn to care for it in return. Our children will inherit the world, and they have a right to not only participate in nature and develop a meaningful relationship with it, but their voices must also be included in conversations about how to repair the earth and nurture our reciprocal relationship with it in order to sustain our interconnected existence for generations to come.
As adults, we must ask ourselves, what can we learn from children’s innate curiosity and ability to develop relationships about the natural world? What do children have to teach us about our responsibility to care for and repair our earth?
This post originally appeared in the December 2022 Journal
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