Friday, August 12, 2011

nature calms children

We all have days that are more hectic than others.  Days when children are feeling hyped up, overwhelmed or out of sorts with the world and the people around them.

Thankfully we have a solution just outside our front gate.

When the wheels start falling off we can head outside with a small group of children and spend time in the neighbouring bushland.

Peace descends.  Children who don't usually connect - connect.

And look after each other.

Nature calms children - and adults.

Preschools are busy environments. There is a lot for young brains to monitor and keep track of at the same time, requiring energy and effort. This can be stressful and result in less self-control

Heading out into nature, breathing the fresh air and taking a moment to escape the hustle and bustle does wonders for mind, body and spirit.  The brain can relax a bit as there is not as much coming at such a fast pace.

Recent studies have shown that exposure to nature has benefits such as improved attention and a reduction in stress rates, increased self-awareness, reduction of aggression and increased overall happiness .

How can you help children enjoy the benefits of nature when you don't have the bush at your backdoor?

Go outside.  Lie on the grass with a small group of children and watch the clouds.  Weed the garden.  Dig in the dirt patch.  Hunt for worms.  Have a picnic on a blanket.  Take a small basket of books to a sunny corner and loll about reading.

Think about your program.  Are you giving children long stretches of uninterrupted free play outdoors?  Have you considered a free flow indoor / outdoor program?  Is your outdoor area too cluttered, too busy, too boisterous?

Think about your play space.  How can you add more natural elements to your outdoor area?  Do you have private, natural spaces for children to retreat to when they are feeling overwhelmed - a bean teepee; a willow hut; nooks and crannies?

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