What do preschoolers love? They love experimentation, getting outside the classroom walls and playing in the dirt.
Is there a way to combine all of these activities? Yes, say hello to Nature Education in ECE!
Involving early learners in nature education with different activities like, exploration, gardening, and planting trees can help them in personally examining the cycle of life and in experiencing how good it feels to care for something for a long period of time.
Such activities give children an opportunity to learn the most significant life skill in the modern times i.e. environmental awareness.
Is there a need to teach nature education?
These days, children as young as 3-5 years of age spend almost 8-10 hours on TV and other sources of entertainment media every day. Only a mere 5% of preschoolers engage in outdoor play. In such a scenario, how our future leaders are supposed to appreciate nature’s working and how would they know the importance of keeping their natural surroundings healthy and abundant.
In these times where most children (and adults as well) are essentially cut off from nature. Research shows that nature education engages young minds in learning and helps them perform better in science, art, math and social studies.
It’s a sorry state of affairs when our children are growing up indoors, immersed in their virtual world filled with gadgets and Smartphones, totally lacking any connection with the natural world. The ramifications of such parenting and schooling are far too many and far too grave; there are consequences to the fitness, attentiveness, aptitude and health of the child to name a few. Moreover, when children aren’t sensitive to nature at an early age there’s little to no possibility that they’ll learn about or value nature later in life.
Besides, anyone who has been in the company of a toddler would agree that they utterly enjoy finding, watching, observing and inquiring pretty much anything they stumble on, be it stones, leaves, insects and the like. Teaching early learners about nature lays the foundation for scientific learning in future.
Our future leaders need to be prepared for the impending challenges, and we should effectively prepare them for the future they would take over. That demands a dedication to provide our young learners with nature education. Thankfully some preschool development programs still identify with the significance of nature education and learning out-of-doors.
The best preschools and best play schools come up with different programs for nature education. While some preschools like to take children out to explore nature, others bring nature inside the classroom. The preschools or play school franchises accredited by the best preschool accreditation agencies like QualityKG work hard on blending classroom learning with the natural environment.
When nature enters a preschool classroom you will find a play and nature-based core curriculum that encourages early learners to connect with their natural surroundings through music and dance, painting and drawing, activities and games – all in a safe and healthy learning environment that develops a strong learning base where children learn by interacting and exploring the natural world around them.
How to create environmental awareness in preschools?
With the help of high-quality and globally relevant preschool accreditation standards and preschool development programs, one can provide early educators with the right tools and training required to bring nature into preschool classrooms.
To create environmental awareness teachers can:
- Set up a “Plant a tree” activity. It’s a great activity to generate environmental awareness. If in case a preschool can’t carry out tree planting activity, teachers can send seeds home with the little gardeners so that they can carry out the activity at home with their parents.
- Another wonderful activity is hanging feeders for birds. Not only is this a great learning resource as preschoolers get to learn about types of birds, their species, food habits, migration etc. they also get to play with nesting materials like hay and straws.
- Another interesting idea is to use globes or maps. The teachers can tell the curious learners stories from different parts of the world while showing them on the map or globe where exactly that place is located. Let their imagination take a flight, let them picture how that place looks, what kind of food and flowers are prominent in that part of the world, this helps them understand diversity around the world in terms of landscapes, weather, people, language, flora and fauna and food.
- Observing insects out in the garden can be a great learning exercise. For one thing the playful preschoolers can learn how to be attentive by observing ants and butterflies; in addition to that they can also draw pictures and take notes about growth and metamorphosis.
- A wonderful way of helping toddlers learn more about their environment is to ask questions that call for their views and ideas. The early educators can ask questions like – Which butterfly is your favorite, what do you like about it? Have you ever seen a tree like this before? Isn’t this a beautiful sunny day? Would you like to paint a garden scene? Ask questions, let them share, involve them in group discussions and most importantly, acknowledge their responses.
To sum up:
For preschoolers, environmental awareness is important and a great place to start would be their school garden. Nature education is a cure to the nerve-racking fast-paced technologically-driven world in which today’s children live. When children are connected to nature they are more attentive, more curious, more focused and far less fanatical about gadgets. Let the future generation become more responsible, appreciative and tuned toward the environment and watch how this helps in fostering their cognitive, physical, and social development.