Updated: Mar 22, 2019
As we open our new Nature Kindergarten class, we reflect upon the benefits that it can have for young children.
The joy of being outside experiencing nature is shared by the young and old alike, but for children especially, their sense of wonderment and exploration of the outdoors is very special. Watching the busy work of the ants, chasing butterflies around the wild flowers, building a home with found treasures of sticks and rocks – these activities create happiness and contentment in children and unknowing to them, also set a framework for future learning
Many studies over the years have shown that outdoor play can help to develop the capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and emotional and intellectual development in young children.
The benefits of nature include:
Provide a different kind of stimulation
Outdoor play provides a multi-sensory experience. When children are outside, they see, hear, smell and touch things that they can’t when they play inside. Richard Louv author of the book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder writes, “As the young spend less and less of their lives in natural settings, their senses narrow and this reduces the richness of human experience.”
“Natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imagination and serve as the medium for inventiveness and creativity”, says Robin Moore, an expert in the design of play leaning environments. The unstructured, open-ended style of outside play allows children to make the rules and design their own activities which promotes creativity and problem-solving skills.
Motivate effective learning
Children who are happy are successful learners. Children are naturally happy when they are playing and moving outside. This happiness opens them up to new experiences and helps them to be innately motivated to learn.
When interacting with creatures in nature, children learn respect and responsibility for other living things. This can develop into empathy and consideration of other people’s feelings. Being outdoors is also a great way for children to experience the wider world. Children learn to measure the risk and reward of open-ended activities such as climbing trees or jumping across a small stream which helps them take responsibility for themselves.
Increase activity levels
Playing outside is a natural way for children to get the exercise their bodies need. Children who move and play are often more focused for other school tasks that require attention
Halton Waldorf School is pleased to now offer a Nature Kindergarten program for children turning 4 by December 31 to 6 years of age. The program is held offsite in the meadows and forests of St. John’s Anglican Church at 2464 Dundas Street, Burlington. There are four acres of land with room to explore, garden and enjoy outdoor classroom spaces for circles, stories and puppet shows. The indoor space is a generous, light filled and warm environment.