How The Outdoor Environment Helps Promote Connections Between Children And Nature

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Engaging in more sensitive interactions in the natural environment aims to promote connections between children and nature. With more than 4 years experience within early childhood education, I have found a tremendous amount of positive outcomes regarding children 's development when they are heavily exposed to the outdoor environment. I became a member of a service where I had commenced my childcare career, and worked there for 3 and a half years. The centre has an incredibly organic outdoor area which incorporated different textures, Australian flora, animals, along with wonderful play equipment; and for me, this set a benchmark. I then chose to move into casual work and became familiar with many different services across Sydney for over a year now. With only one prior service to compare, I found myself continually disappointed with the outdoor learning environments on offer at the centres I visited. Seeing many outdoor environments also allowed me to see the different impact they have on the children 's learning and behaviour. Although each service I visited provided an outdoor learning space, I often found them to be uninspiring, very ‘plastic’, and not organic; thus not giving them an opportunity to connect with the earth. This begged me to question whether children 's development, and their learning and behaviour was affected by the level of nature that is provided in learning spaces; and whether a lack of nature has a negative effect on these same areas. In researching this topic, I find a pleasing amount of literature relating to the positive affects the natural environment can have in early childhood which is no surprise. These describe the benefits that nature has on children 's physical development, health and connectin... ... middle of paper ... ...ldren’s agency and enhance their learning” is something all educators should be well aware of (Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics, 2006). Doing this by strong use of the natural environment may be something lesser practiced. With an increasing amount of research, it is evident that a strong opinion has been formed which describes nature enhances learning (Hinds and Sparks, 2008). I am left with the desire to fill in the void in research within Australia and in the early learning setting, as the early years are crucial to children 's overall development. Following on from the methodology of Luchs and Fikus (2013), I aim to use observational data and surveys from families in the hopes to fill these gaps. This will assist in developing an understanding through comparison between learning in nature and the negative affects that a lack of nature can have on a child.

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