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Information Session
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Nature

Early childhood is often described as a unique and critical time for connecting children with nature. 

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“Nature connections made in early childhood are instrumental to the construction of values, development of an ‘ecological self’, and can be viewed as a lifelong resource. But, under what circumstances do these connections materialise?”

(Sobel, D., 2008, p 10)

We have made a commitment to spending as much time outdoors each day as we can, ensuring that children have time to explore and develop a relationship with the outdoor environment. The time we spend in our playground  each day enables the children to slowly observe, interact with and enjoy the natural world they live in.

David Attenborough once said that, 

“People are not going to care about animal conservation unless they think that animals are worthwhile.”

Recently many of the children have been showing an interest in the insects and creatures that we share our playground with. I have observed some beautiful conversations amongst the children, where they have shown curiosity for living things, careful listening to each other and high levels of engagement for extended periods of time. 

Here is a snapshot of a conversation I listened to between two four year old children who were later joined by a third child. They were investigating some small snails. They very gently picked the snails up and placed them on their own hand or arm. Their enthusiasm and interest lasted much longer than this dialogue and has extended over multiple days. 

“I want my snail to be there and safe. Where’s my snail gone?”

“Let’s use this as a little snail pot. Where’s my moving snail?”

“Look! You have to look and you will find it.”

“Where did it go, my cutie?”

“We found a snail!”

“Can I see? Have you found lots of snails?”

“Now this is my snail too. It’s on my hand.”

“My snail is moving.”

“I found a snail.”

“The snails can move.”

“I think they have their home and their family.”

“They tickle me.”

“I love snails and when they tickle me.”

“They are not biting me.”

“Another one is moving on my arm!”

“It tickle me.”

“He’s moving on my arm!”

“I’m not scared! It’s tickling me!”

“I’m not scared. They’re friends.”

“He’s my best friend.”

“It tickle me.”

“It’s slimy.”

“Look at it’s eyes!”

“Why is it not moving? I want a moving a one.”

“Maybe more snails will come back and you can pick it up.”

“I’ve found a snail!”

“What! What!”

“I found a snail too!”

“A tiny snail.”

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6 snails.”

“I want to take them home. They need a box, so I can move them home.”

“They like a sand to eat.”

“I think my snail wants to eat too, a leaf.”

“Also they need water. When they are thirsty they need water.”

“He’s hungry.”

Although personally I feel somewhat uncomfortable when the children handle the tiny creatures as they can often be a bit rough or even accidentally harm them, it is though this wondering about nature that the children will have a desire to protect it in the future. I have read several accounts of adults, now strong advocates for animal rights, who described that as children they tried to set fire to ants with magnifying glasses and the sun’s rays or pull the legs off beetles. It was this intense interest and investigation of living things that grew into a passion for their protection in later life. We can not expect children to take responsibility for the natural world if they never had a chance of experiencing it in delightful ways. 

 


 

David Sobel (2008) Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators. Stenhouse publishers