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The Importance of Nature and Learning Through Play

The early years of life were once a time when children were initiated into the art of exploring the natural world around them. Time spent outside was esteemed as a chance to allow the elements to imbue the soul with vivacious excitement. Nature was a place where children leapt into rapturous learning and merry movement. The importance of play was recognized.

Modern society has moved away from direct experiences in nature, causing detriment to children’s development. This can be seen in the home and at school. There has been an increase in time spent playing indoors with endocrine disrupting plastic toys and digitalized “educational” games and TV shows in both settings. Especially in schools there has been a move towards decreasing playtime to optimize the school day for academic work. This change has happened despite the numerous research studies demonstrating that children learn through play and not rigorous academic discipline.

Most children no longer have the opportunity to watch as jewel green caterpillars squirm across a flower or run through grass chasing after butterflies. What happened to the days when a child could dig through the dirt and find a squishy pink worm that tingled her palm as it inched around?

By recognizing the importance of play and nature you, as a guide, can begin offering your child opportunities to experience nature and learn through play. You can do this as a family by getting outside for nature walks, swimming, and peaceful picnics. There has also been an increase in schools that have a focus on getting children outside and developing curriculum for outdoor learning. Many are referred to as nature preschools or forest kindergartens but you will also see schools with unrelated philosophies promoting ample outdoor playtime.

The research that has been conducted with nature preschools and forest kindergartens is highly demonstrative of the amazing benefits children reap from time spent in nature. This post highlights some of these benefits from the perspective of education in a nature preschool or forest kindergarten. However, this information can be expanded to express the significance of all experiences in nature, regardless of if it occurs in a school setting.

I invite you to read these findings and allow them to ...

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