Updated: Dec 1, 2021
“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”
David Sobel, Beyond Ecophobia
During my student and professional journey as an environmental engineer, I could experience the real need for implementing environmental education in the school system. My bachelor thesis consisted in the creation and implementation of workshops about environmental awareness in primary and high schools in Quito-Ecuador. It was a great experience since I could connect directly with students and understand their relationship with nature. I concluded that it is fundamental for environmental education to take place outside where outdoor and experiential learning can be combined rather than in an indoor classroom. I could infer as well that this education is not just for school-age students but preschoolers. Why not start at a young age to teach our kids how important is to love and protect our environment?
I believe education is essential in the fight against the destruction of nature and all the social problems it carries with it. This education must have its foundation in connecting children with nature.
As a forest and outdoor educator, I have witnessed that the exposure of children to the outdoors creates a strong bond with natural elements. A tree becomes the best place to tell stories, a bunch of rocks is the most comfortable place to have snacks, a beach becomes the heart of outdoor playing.
I remember that one day during our outdoor adventures our "baby willow" got sick. Children with tears in their eyes expressed their worry for one of their favorite trees in the park.
Many studies have been done about how outdoor learning can impact future environmental awareness in children and adults. The University of British Columbia, Okanagan conducted a study that suggests that children who play outside are more likely to protect nature as adults. Researcher Catherine Broom states that "developing positive experiences in nature at a young age can influence our attitudes and behaviors towards nature as adults. It is important to study these childhood experiences to develop environmental awareness and action in the next generation." Catherine Broom shows that 87 percent of study respondents who played outside as children expressed a continued love of nature as young adults.
It is so easy to contribute to the protection of our nature. Our passion is to bring children outside and offer a space where a connection can happen.
“Not only do children benefit from nature, but nature benefits from children”
Stay connected for more information about the amazing world of learning in nature.
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