Raising kids has almost become synonymous with increased screen time. Could our dalliance with tech actually be a hindrance to learning?
For most parents, phones and tablets have made their tasks easier, from teaching their kids basic colors and ABCs to keeping them occupied whenever they go out. However, these technologies have left many kids detached from nature and manual work. The gap created in our kids’ education could have them grow into half-baked adults.
Similar to building a classroom library, frequently exposing young kids to nature and the outdoors gives them the opportunity to catch some fresh air as well as engage in tactile learning that they miss from tech. Since higher education is becoming increasingly necessary for career success, early education is becoming more competitive, thus prompting some schools to do away with recess in favor of more classroom time. This move may be detrimental in creating connections with nature that are vital for lower stress levels, improved information retention, and lower anxiety, all of which are essential for healthy living.
In urban communities, where unconventional education methods may already be necessary to reach students effectively, access to nature and green spaces is absolutely vital. The California State Education and Environment round table observed in one study their Environment as an Integrated Context for Learning (EIC) education framework, which promotes hands-on, collaborative, and engaging activities as central to the curricula. The observations suggest that students in programs that are specifically aimed at creating an appreciation for the environment (EIC programs) achieve higher test scores than their compatriots in traditional school programs.
Now then, how do we teach our kids to appreciate nature despite the appeal of tech? Here are some suggestions you can try out in your home or classroom.
Take your classes outdoor. Science is obviously a great subject to teach outdoors, but nature also offers plenty of lessons in language, history, art, math, and so on.
Allow the kids to play. Unstructured outdoor playtime allows kids the freedom to think for themselves, and this helps develop problem-solving skills that foster creative thinking in the future.
Make outdoor time and recess a daily ritual. While there isn’t a standard recess duration and frequency, we all know that taking breaks is essential for optimum academic performance—refreshing effects by taking students outside during the break.
While not every school has access to forests like schools in Scandinavia, all kids can benefit by adopting an outdoor culture. The outdoors provides an environment where all kids can connect and interact regardless of their background. Nature has the capacity to transcend many of the social pressures faced by kids and teens. As Shakespeare put it, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
Nature has the capacity to enrich our lives at any level or age. Developing a love for nature early in life can definitely help young kids and teens throughout their lives. What do you love about nature and being outdoors?