Children are naturally born with a sense of wonder. When left alone, many children often explore the world with all their senses. They may experiment with eating mud pies, shove their noses into flowers or try to catch ants and other bugs. Many children will communicate their discoveries to those around them and demonstrate an affinity for Nature. Carefully cultivated, the feelings of appreciation of nature form solid values that can mature into ecological literacy, and in the future into conscious green patterns of living.
Yet Hart and Moore declared that the culture of childhood that played outside is gone, and children’s everyday life has shifted to the indoors. Sadly children’s opportunity for direct and spontaneous contact with nature is a vanishing childhood experience. One researcher has referred to this sudden shift in children’s lives and their loss of free play in the outdoors as a childhood of imprisonment. Childhood and regular unsupervised play in the outdoor natural world are hardly seen. The researcher Pyle calls this the ‘extinction of experience,’ which breeds apathy towards environmental concerns.
Research clearly shows that children need regular contact with and play in the natural world for children to love nature and have a positive environmental ethic.
So grab your child’s hand and lets go!
Gardening activities can become a powerful teaching and learning tool. And if you don’t have any experience in gardening, don’t worry. The less the better, as you will be traveling side by side with your child/ren. Together you will be following the growth of a garden to a place of rich awards and a full tummy!
Through the perception of nature and life, we recognize the values and importance of our environment. Gratitude should be encouraged between the ages of 0 to 7 years. Curiously enough, these are critical learning years. We learn to walk, talk, and learn that sharing is caring.
Take the time to enjoy nature with small children. Softly encourage your child to play with soil. Invite children to plant flowers, hardy succulentsand/or a tree of their favourite fruit. They can watch the tree grow, measuring their height against the tree.
Remember the three golden rules to gardening:
- plant what you like to eat
- plant what you like to smell
- plant what you like to look at
If you follow these rules you will always be satisfied with your garden. When planting with children, start with herbs, or have fun with eating edible flowers. There are also projects such as making garden stones or mini quirky gardens to make you garden space beautiful.
Hot BUZZ: Read more Young Children’s Relationship with Nature by Randy White
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