Nature-Based Learning – What Is It and How Can You Incorporate It into Your Child’s Education?
Since the beginning of COVID, nature-based learning has gained popularity – and there’s good reason for it! There are many benefits to incorporating nature into your child’s learning and education.
Nature-based learning increases cognitive thinking, supports creativity and problem solving, and enhances academic performance. When children are frequently exposed to nature, they not only have better academic outcomes, but they also show improvement in behavior and have fewer discipline problems. Nature helps reduce stress and anxiety and promotes focus. When children are given time to explore through outdoor experiences, they have an increased enthusiasm and greater engagement in learning.
Nature-based learning can be achieved in many ways. At DCDC, we strive to provide all age groups with unstructured outside time. This allows the children to explore their surroundings in a safe space while getting the physical and psychological benefits of being outside. Our children also take nature walks where they are encouraged to look for things that they find interesting – whether that be leaves, corn stalks, or blades of grass!
You can continue this learning at home by taking your child on a nature walk around your neighborhood. Take a basket with you and allow your child to collect things that they find. (Remember to not pick things from parks or yards. Try to encourage your child to look at parts that are still connected to the plant and collect things that have fallen.) Some ideas for things to look for include: pebbles, rocks, feathers, leaves, sycamore seeds (aka helicopters), sticks, pine cones, and acorns.
Use your found objects for crafting! Allow your child time to trace leaves or create leaf impressions. Read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert and encourage your child to create their own leaf man. Use the pebbles and rocks to decorate a picture frame. Create ornaments from sticks. Or just simply let your child explore the found parts and some glue and see what they come up with!
Another fun nature-based activity is to create a mud kitchen. It’s amazing what children can do with dirt, water, bowls, and a few kitchen utensils. Children can also use grass, flowers, sticks, and other found objects in their creations. Just be sure to wear old clothing that can get dirty!
Allowing your child to explore nature and ask questions allows them to learn new things while fostering their creativity. Encourage your child to run through the grass, climb trees, and jump in mud puddles. Go on a hike. Eat outside. Have your child help you weed or water the plants in the garden. The mental, social, and physical benefits are well worth it!!
Need a little help coming up with a fun outdoor idea? Try our nature-based scavenger hunt!
Can you find……
-a green leaf -a butterfly -a stick that looks like a letter of the alphabet
-a ladybug -an acorn -a pine cone -a smooth rock
-a squirrel -a spiderweb -a bumpy rock -an ant
-a colored leaf -a worm –a cloud -a tree stump