A child’s early years are a time of incredible growth and development. Language skills, motor skills, creativity, imagination, reasoning, and social skills are evolving in leaps and bounds. Young children learn primarily through their senses and from direct experience. They develop an understanding about the world through play, exploration, creative activities, and by watching and imitating
adults and other children.
During this developmentally important time children are exploring their own identity and personality. Patterns of behavior, ethics, a sense of right and wrong, likes and dislikes, and comfort zones are all being created. An acquaintance and comfort with nature at this period can provide a child with a lasting sense of wonder, an appreciation of beauty, skills and understanding to help them cope with the world around them, and a place they can go for refuge, comfort and inspiration.
ICAN encourages early child care providers and parents to offer outdoor experiences for children through family nature clubs, natural play areas, and participating in a program on nature activities for young children such as Growing Up WILD or Project Learning Tree’s Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood
Time outdoors can benefit a young child by providing:
Quick Steps to Start
o Feed the birds
o Start a rock collection
o Plant a garden
o Build a sandbox
o Build a treehouse or nature “hideaway”
o Keep a list of the wildlife you see in your yard