What’s nature got to do with it?

What’s nature got to do with it?

A surprise sprouted inside a water soaked log

A surprise sprouted inside a water soaked log

A child’s day to day experiences today differ dramatically from those just a few decades ago.  Time in the natural world has decreased substantially for many children.  A day might start, remain, and end entirely indoors.  This phenomenon has resulted in journalist and author Richard Louv coining the phrase; “Nature Deficit Disorder”.  In Mr. Louv’s view the disconnect from the natural world has contributed to attention problems and obesity, among other issues present in our children’s lives today.  You can read more about Mr. Louv’s research and results in his book Last Child in the Woods available at our local Washington County library or on his website: http://richardlouv.com/.

You might ask what does that have to do with our school garden?  The answer is everything.  We have an ideal location to introduce children to nature or to continue to strengthen their bond to the environment.  Our grounds provide the perfect forest get away, literally in our school’s backyard.  Time spent in nature can reduce anxiety, improve focus, and enhance social skills in a variety of ways.  But it also impacts academics and, yes, can even improve test results.

photo credit piensachile.com

photo credit piensachile.com

Our children spend the day learning reading, writing, math, and more in the classroom.  All of those subjects can be enhanced with time in our school’s garden and outdoor classroom.

Science is a natural choice when we think of taking the classroom outdoors, students will be able to engage in hands on learning, they will observe, hypothesize, and then can perform tests to confirm their theories.  This can improve analytical thinking skills as well as observation skills-both needed when they return to their desks.  It brings an abstract concept into the real world and can make difficult concepts easier to understand.

Math studies outdoors can mean taking a theoretical concept and putting it to real life use.  Estimating length, width, or diameter can be done with trees and garden pathways.  Once the estimates are in, it‘s time to bring out the tools to measure.  Searching for geometric shapes in nature can solidify those tricky terms.  After seeing real world examples of acute or obtuse angles going back and identifying them in the book just might be easier.

photo credit to photocase.com

photo credit to photocase.com

Writing and reading skills can also benefit from time in our school garden.  Time spent outdoors quietly observing birds or bugs can be turned into creative poetry, this can also improve concentration and focus back in the classroom.   And why not Drop Everything And Read…outside?  The potential uses of our school’s garden and outdoor classroom are limitless!  It’s an exciting time to be a student at Alberta Rider Elementary school as we work to bring learning outside into nature.

For more information about the benefits of bringing learning into nature please visit

http://www.seer.org/pages/research.html

http://www.nwf.org/pdf/Schoolyard%20Habitats/SYH_standards.pdf

http://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife/Schoolyard-Habitats/Benefits/Academic-Benefits.aspx

How can you help?

  • Continue to support the Garden fundraising by purchasing Scrip.  If 100 ARE families purchased a $100 gift card to Safeway, Albertsons or New Seasons every week our school would earn $400.00 a week.  Do your grocery shopping with scrip and support the garden with every purchase!
  • Come to the spring carnival and silent auction on April 26th and buy a plant for the garden.
  • Come back in May with your family to plant it!
  • Talk to your child’s teacher about how you can help bring the learning outdoors.
  • Finally, check back to our blog often so you don’t miss a single thing!
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3 Responses to What’s nature got to do with it?

  1. Beautifully said! I have read some of Louv’s Last Child in the Woods as well as David Orr’s Earth in Mind and Wendell Berry’s Watershed and Commonwealth in Citizenship Papers. I think incorporating students into nature and getting them beyond the four walls will greatly influence learning and connections. Creating a school or class garden is a fantastic idea.

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