With new technologies constantly emerging, children are increasingly looking to screens to entertain themselves. However, according to Stephen Kellert, Tweedy/Ordway Professor Emeritus of Social Ecology and Senior Research Scholar at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, “there’s increasing evidence that suggests that even in the modern world, whether it’s attentional capacity or stress relief or critical thinking or problem solving or physical fitness, …the experience of nature helps facilitate these adaptations.”
The truth of the matter is that children need engagement with nature—nature provides a tangible look at the world around us that technology simply cannot offer. For example, a child may learn about the difference between a seagull and a robin in a textbook, or even an online article or software. However, being able to physically go to a zoo, and interact with and see both the seagull and robin can arguably teach that child more than just learning about said animals in a textual manner.
Kellert asserts that there is enormous complexity in nature. He states, “when you think about the variety and complexity of the everyday understanding, you realize how much adaptation and coping and classification and naming that goes on in response to this extraordinarily complex, complicated, diverse world that is beyond our self. You begin to realize how much opportunity there is for children to… name, to classify, to problem solve, to create, to think about how to…critically think and adaptive response to different elements of this dynamic, ambient, changing uncertain, surprising world that is the world of beyond just ourselves as a single species.” Clearly, there is mass importance in involving your child in nature. A very simple way is to teach your kids how to garden in the bounds of your own backyard!
Here are some simple steps to teaching your kids how to garden, courtesy of WikiHow:
1. Focus on making it fun and interesting. If your kids actually are interested in the fascinating process of plant growth, animal interaction, etc., they’ll be more inclined to participate.
2. Make sure you have the right tools. Having the right tools and equipment is not only essential but makes the gardening process more fun!
3. Because your kids are beginning gardeners, choose plants that are easy to grow. Suggested plants include: Sunflowers, Radishes, Squash, Tomatoes (from seedlings), Lettuces, Peas and beans, Sweet peas, poppies,alyssum, marigolds, pansies or nasturtiums.
4. Show you children the basics of planting seed! Beforehand, till and add nutrients to the soil—they can learn about this process afterwards. For now, focus on just helping your children plant seeds!
5. Along with teaching them how to garden, introduce the various types of wildlife that are involved with garden life. This will add an extra dimension to your children’s nature education.
Clearly, there are many benefits to exposing your child to nature; additionally, it’s super easy to introduce nature into their education! Let’s Go Chipper for nature and education!