Usually my posts are about activities you can do at home with your own children, because this is the easiest place for each of us to make a difference when it comes to raising environmentally conscious youngsters, but there’s no denying we need change on a broader scale if the next generation is going to help solve the climate and conservation issues our world is facing now and into the future.
Encourage a nature-based education
How do we create and foster an education culture that teaches skills and values to meet global challenges and optimise regional strengths?
I’m passionate about nurturing environmental awareness through connecting children with nature, so it’s not surprising that I have some pretty strong views on where our educational culture should be heading! There’s no question in my mind that we need more nature in our classrooms, for the benefit of both our children and the environment, and there are plenty of experts who agree with me:
‘A growing body of evidence suggests that time spent in more natural environments (indoors or outdoors) can reduce the symptoms of attention disorders, and improve cognitive functioning as well as creativity, socialization and mental and physical health. (Richard Louv, Children & Nature Network)’
For specific examples, you can find scientific studies and reports here.
So how would I incorporate wildlife and the environment into the curriculum? Here are just a few suggestions.
Make Nature-based Education a Priority
If building a connection with nature isn’t a priority, it won’t happen. I understand that given the realities of curriculum, teaching and testing, it’s hard to add another thing to a teacher’s list but I think it’s worth the effort. I feel that it’s important to incorporate nature into the classroom on a consistent basis, not just sporadically.
Embed it into the education culture
There are lots of simple ways to embed nature on a classroom level without it becoming a chore (e.g. taking learning outside, hanging magnifying glasses at the door for playtime) but I think it needs to be included in the culture of schools. Children are still punished by restricting their playtime outside, when that time outdoors may be just what they need. Evidence shows that children are spending more and more time inside. Learning about the environment and their place in it is more important than ever.
Finding joy in the natural world is essential to nurturing eco-friendly beliefs and attitudes, but it’s never too soon to start taking action as well.
You may notice that I blog about action activities here and there. I’m not saying everything should be action-orientated, but if your children are showing strong feelings about an environmental issue, why not let them think of ways to help? A letter to a local politician can double as writing practice; a fundraising activity can be used to teach addition and subtraction.
Want know more about how to get nature into your schools and classrooms? Read this brilliant article written by Richard Louv.
What would you do to encourage a nature education culture in schools?
How DO we foster an educational culture that will save our environment?