I have always had an interest in the natural world, and throughout my life, time outside has always been important. As a child I have fond memories of camping, walking in the woods, fishing and canoeing, and visiting the ocean.
We swam in rivers, lakes and salty sea water, and often stayed outside until after dark, mosquitos biting our ankles while we squeezed in one more round of Hide and Go Seek. Fast forward to just a couple of years ago. I took a class called, “Leadership and Learning.” My professor advised that when pursuing our own personal learning and studies, one should choose a topic that we truly love, something that we will be excited about and want to put time and effort into, because there will be times when that learning will be overwhelming and challenging and difficult. Passion for the subject might be what makes the difference between success and failure. On my ride home that day I thought of the things I truly love to do. I tried to mesh this list with topics that might be pertinent to my work with children, like the middle of a Venn Diagram, I searched for the overlapping ideas. Nature studies and time outdoors figured prominently in the middle of my mind’s diagram. I have always shared the natural world in my work with children, but since that day I have begun to do it in a more formal, concerted way.
In my work with young children, I have found an enthusiasm and engagement in any topic related to science and the natural world. I have observed kids become more calm and focused after a walk in the woods, and more interested in learning when they have time outdoors or contact with nature. This is a topic we can all delve into. Exploring the impact of nature on children, particularly the way it may or may not effect learning, focus, attitude, and emotions, is a topic that I can be passionate about. Sharing my own love for the natural world with the students I work with can help foster an appreciation and stewardship for our Earth the future health of our planet could certainly benefit from!