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Friday, January 22, 2021

The Value of Nature Preschools

Nature preschools are getting kids active and interested in the outdoors, while fostering a sense of responsibility for the environment.

Think back to when you were in preschool or grade school. Did you ever look out the window on a sunny day and wish you could have class outside? Well, staying indoors may have effects more serious than boredom. On average, American children spend about 4-7 minutes outside, with an overwhelming 7 hours a day of screen time. 

While it seems safe and convenient to have kids play indoors, it is important to create a balance— excessive time with electronics may introduce problems with sleep, behavior, and education.  What if there was a clever way to combine education and outdoor play? 

Nature preschools are doing just that—getting kids active and interested in the outdoors, while fostering a sense of responsibility for the environment. In light of climate change, it is imperative that children begin learning how to care for nature!

Along with the traditional goals of child development, nature preschools present additional benefits. Spending time outdoors is suggested to boost aspects of physical and mental health. Improved motor skills, fitness, brain development and relationships with peers and caregivers are only some of the advantages! 

Increased exposure to nature in particular boosts focus and responsibility while reducing stress and fatigue. This makes sense—a sunny forest teeming with plants and animals should provide inspiration and stimulate a curious mind!

Nature preschools are quickly proliferating throughout the world. They can be found in North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. While programs and approaches vary by school, the essential concept involves spending at least 30% of class time outdoors and building lessons around natural elements. For example, when students identify an interesting plant, this may spark an informative discussion of plant biology, such as water requirements and pollination.

If your family isn’t quite ready to take the plunge into preschool, there are ample resources that allow you to reap the benefits from home. You can get young ones interested in nature and step outside for an immersive, engaging experience.  https://naturalstart.org/feature-stories/new-world-nature-based-education 

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