Little Nature Explorers

by-water-lneOur current generation of children has spent far less time outdoors than previous generations, and we’ve just recently begun to see signs of negative impacts. While parents have meant well by providing comfortable indoor spaces for children, with a multitude of structured activities and accommodating gadgets, it is becoming apparent over time that something has been lost with this transition away from unstructured time in natural settings. Research indicates the following benefits for kids given time and means to enjoy the outdoors:

  • Outdoor play increases fitness levels, coordination, and builds active, healthy bodies.
  • Spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.
  • Being in the natural world improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.
  • Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.
  • Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces, and the ability to conquer small challenges in rougher territory improves confidence.
  • Children who play outdoors are more creative in their play and less aggressive in tactics.
  • Concentration, curiosity, and critical thinking improve for children who spend time in natural settings.
  • The most direct route to caring for the environment as an adult is participating in nature activities as a young child.

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The Little Nature Explorers program at the Riparian Institute draws on the most current findings regarding preschoolers need for time exploring and discovering nature. Our master-degreed lead teacher, ‘Granmaya’ has studied outdoor preschool programs across the country to create a design that blends best practices. Lisa Herrmann, Education Coordinator, was recently involved in the writing of the National Project for Excellence publication, Guidelines for Early Childhood Environmental Education, and has brought those understandings to the program as well. Through Little Nature Explorers, we hope to provide opportunities for preschoolers to grow strong minds, bodies, and spirits through the nurturing of our natural world.