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Nature and Preschoolers – The Perfect Combination

by Lori Sciame | June 1st, 2011 | Helpful Hints, Preschool

Buzzing bees, fluttering butterflies, busy birds…these simple creatures beckon preschool children outside. I still remember the seemingly endless summer days of my youth. I woke each morning, eager to explore the grassy fields, the sumptuous flower gardens, and the shade-filled tree groves that made up my neighborhood.

Why not take advantage of your preschooler’s natural curiosity and make it a point to explore the great outdoors this summer? By checking out what’s going on outside, you will help your child develop a life-long relationship with the natural world.

Benefits of Outside Exploration

1. Exercise
Children need to move! Taking nature hikes, going to the zoo, climbing trees…all these activities develop a growing child’s muscles. Remember, part of making sure your child is healthy includes plenty of exercise.

2. Connection
Children need to feel connected to the natural world. In order to care about the planet we live on, preschoolers must learn about all of the Earth’s inhabitants. As parents we “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” and our young ones need to know from an early age why we think green!

3. Creativity
Nature spurs creativity. For preschoolers, being outside allows them to develop their imagination. Who doesn’t remember lying on your back staring up at the clouds? (One looked like a dog, another a castle, and a third – your cranky teacher!) With children, creative play outside is thoroughly fun and freeing!

4. Self-Confidence
Playing outside offers opportunities for skill building in preschool children. For example, when a little one learns how to skip, or when he or she can shimmy up a tree for the first time, good feelings abound. And with each new skill mastery, self-confidence soars.

5. Stress Relief
Find solace in nature…just breathe. This is true for children as well as adults. A little one’s world may be filled with TV, video and computer games, music, dance lessons, and other stimulating activities. To alleviate the fast-paced nature of their lives, a visit to nature is just the cure needed.

6. Learning
Adventures outside offer wonderful learning opportunities. A parent can rest assured that time spent investigating nature is beneficial. The National Association for the Education of Young Children states that time outside is crucial, as “the development of children’s perceptual abilities may suffer when so much of their experience is through television, computers, books, work-sheets, and media that require only two senses. The senses of smell, touch, and taste, and the sense of motion through space are powerful modes of learning.”

Two Fun Activities

Texture Mania
Collect various items with your child – a rock, a dandelion, a stick, a leaf, a feather- then discuss their textures. Are they hard, soft, rough, sticky…? Which one does your child like the feel of the best? Why? There’s no right or wrong answer, just let your child talk.

Listen and Learn
Ask your child to be very quiet. What sounds from nature does he or she hear? Birds, bees, wind? Help differentiate between natural and man-made sounds.

  1. I just want to second the ‘texture mania’ idea. My son loved collecting rocks and the feel of them when he was a toddler! Hours of free entertainment!

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