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Get Out! The Importance of Exposing Children to Nature

Megan is a Canadian Teaching Assistant who has recently moved to London and is currently working in schools through Protocol Education. She continues her Green Classroom theme with a post that reflects on how much children stand to benefit from getting out into nature!

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Get Out! The Importance of Exposing Children to Nature

Ever since I can remember I have had a love and appreciation for nature.  It might be because my parents took my brother and I camping a few times a year growing up.  It might also be because I watched such programs as “Captain Planet,” “The Magic School Bus,” and “The Nature of Things with David Suzuki.”  Chances are if you’ve ever lived in Canada, you know David Suzuki.  Anyway, bottom line is that I was fortunate enough to grow up constantly being exposed to nature and natural processes like gardening and such.

When I was in high school, I worked at a summer camp for 3 years and it was great.  I had 2 jobs: Camp Naturalist and Camp First Aid Responder.  As a naturalist, I was able to educate children about nature through games, hiking, and creek exploring.  I loved it and the kids seemed to enjoy it  too! We had a pretty good mix of kids from around the county.  Some of them grew up in the country while others were used to city life.  Either way, the kids always ended up learning something that they didn’t know before. 

For the first time, I was teaching children and really getting important points to them.  It was always really rewarding when their parents came to pick them up and they would start rattling off all the environmental facts I had taught them over the week.  It felt good, as I’m sure many of you teachers and TAs can understand. 

When I went to college, as I have written before, I took primarily environmental education classes.  In one of my classes, we had to find and read a book about an environmental issue.  I went to the bookstore and happened upon one of the greatest books I have ever read.  It’s called, Last Child In The Woods by Richard Louv.  For everyone who has not read it yet, you NEED to!  It is incredible.  The book contains facts and figures from various scientists, psychologists, and doctors about the importance and benefits of exposing children (and humans, in general) to nature.  He believes, “thoughtful exposure of youngsters to nature can even be a powerful form of therapy for attention-deficit disorders and other maladies." As one scientist puts it, "we can now assume that just as children need good nutrition and adequate sleep, they may very well need contact with nature” (Louv).  

Children, and adults too, need nature in their lives.  I’m not saying we should all stop driving cars and go be hermits in the woods.  That’s not an option for the vast majority of people.  What I am suggesting is that we take the time to explore.  Get outside no matter what the weather is like, unless there is a tornado or it’s -10 degrees.  In that case, please stay inside and learn about nature in a safe space!

Nature is all around us whether it’s in an urban area or in the middle of a forest.  You just have to look for it, learn about it, and appreciate it.


Tags: Megan,TA,Teaching Assistant, Support work in London, Nature, Environment, Protocol Education

Category: Australian Teachers

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