Linking Practice to Theory and Research – The Importance of Contact with Nature

Linking Practice to Theory and Research – The Importance of Contact with Nature

At IDEA ELC we are interested to know that there is growing evidence to support the view that playing outdoors in the early years is not only enjoyable for young children, it is also essential to them developing healthily as well as learning about their world and developing appropriate attitudes to the environment.

A survey by the Children’s Play Council found that 80% of children prefer to play outdoors rather than indoors. When asked about their preference for different activities, 86% of children preferred outdoor learning activities.

As adults, both as parents and practitioners, we need to listen to the voice of children and ensure we do all we can to provide them with good quality outdoor experiences.

Research conducted in Scandinavia found that children who play in natural landscapes are healthier, have better balance and co-ordination and demonstrate more creativity in their play. The environment also influenced the kinds of play children engage in, suggesting that the environment stimulates the imagination in powerful ways and promotes pro-social and co-operative play. Natural environments tend to me more effective in this respect. Researchers such as Rivikin (2000) believe that we need to give great consideration to outdoor play spaces for children and views them as ‘habitats- places where children can live.’

Early childhood is a time when children develop positive attitudes towards the environment, and that lack of opportunity for this may result in children being dissociated and unconnected to their natural world. This is one of the reasons why IDEA ELC promote as much contact with nature as possible.

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