What is childhood, and how can we, as parents, nurture our children’s natural curiosity, and inspire a lifelong inquisitive mind and resilient spirit so they become successful adults?
As conscious parents, we face the constant challenge of helping our kids gain a healthy balance with technology so they don’t fall behind, but also expose them to the natural world around them - where they can explore, laugh, and learn the way nature intended.
At Nui, we believe the answer lies in the world around us. To bring nature into schools, and make it a priority. In this article, we discuss the benefits of nature in schools, and take a look at actual Nature Schools and why they work.
The Benefits of Nature in Schools
While most people can understand the benefits of being in nature, the benefits of having an educational environment IN nature are backed by science. Just as how learning their ABC’s, nature in schools has significant proven benefits that cannot be overlooked.
Just some of the benefits:
Creativity and imagination. Unstructured play allows kids to interact meaningfully with their surroundings. They can think more freely, design their own activities, and approach the world in inventive ways.
- Letting kids interact with the environment helps them own confidence in their control of their own actions.
Developing their human experience. While a video game can be stimulating, in nature, children can touch, smell, and hear - using their natural senses which raises their appreciation for life and their own human experience.
- Wonder and fascination. Kids are naturally curious - a characteristic that is often lost as adults. Being in nature creates a unique sense of wonder for kids that no other environment can provide. And with fascination, research shows it helps young brains develop their attention and focus.
Today, many children suffer from hyperactivity and ADHD. The numbers have skyrocketed, and with so much stress and distraction around them, it’s no wonder it happens. Research shows that just a 20 minute walk in nature can help kids focus better, and reduce stress as much as 28%.
Whole Child Learning with Nature Schools
Research shows that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors. In short, the mental and cognitive benefits seem to indicate that nature is not only something kids need to have, but that it should be required.
Enter Nature Schools. A place where children learn skills and lessons that prepare them for kindergarten through their experiences in nature. They learn resilience, and through hands on activities.
You cannot be a passive learner in nature. Nature schools focus their curriculum on developing the “whole child”—i.e., cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and creative development.
What a concept - where children learn HOW to learn. They learn how to develop their natural curiosity and joy, and work on social skills such as interacting with others, self expression, and building relationships. Instead of emphasizing one way learning of academics at this early age, the focus is on creativity, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence.
“Nature and our society is suffering from a lack of connection. (At Westbrook Nature School) we believe cultivating a relationship with the Earth with our youth is paramount for the future of our planet in typically technology laden and overly safety conscious society. Our students garden, prepare food, build shelters, play in the mud, snow and rain unless it's below 16 degrees.” Hilary, a Nature School parent
At Nature Schools, learning is focused on interacting with nature. Everything from birds, frogs, and other animals who live nearby not only focuses the child’s attention, it opens the child up to the beauty and wonder of animal communication, creating a sense of connection with the natural world. Teachers model gratitude and compassion and learning involves planting gardens and feeding the animals. When kids are encouraged to develop their own natural instincts, it helps them develop their full human potential in the long term.
The philosophy behind Nature Schools, is that when a child’s experiences truly meet their learning and developmental needs, they will naturally develop empathy, true connections with their peers, habits of caring and generosity, as well as resilience, adaptability, and character.
Stewards of the Earth
At Nui, we champion the message of the environment - through our organic and natural fiber clothes, using only the finest organic merino wools and cottons to help kids be comfortable and ready to take on the elements in nature, and educating our Nui family about the reasons behind our design intelligence, the danger of fast fashion, plastic pollution and toxins in conventional clothing.
We strongly support educational systems such as Waldorf and Nature school systems, incorporating nature into our family’s everyday lives, and teaching our children to care for the earth to help them learn about compassion.
As future generations work to combat climate change, the planet's health will be front and center in our children's lives. We work so hard to protect the environment and getting kids into it so young they can gain an appreciation for it and help them grow in to stewards of the earth.
Together we can create change for our children today, for future generations, and for the planet to one day, be healthier for all. To create a world where exploring, laughing, and learning is a lifelong process, and something we don’t outgrow as adults and we nurture in our children.