The continued efforts of NLC’s Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative and the Children & Nature Network are geared towards providing children the most optimal opportunities to play, grow, and learn in the great outdoors.
Held in county parks, private preserves, botanical gardens and other green places across the country, nature day camps are surging in demand. In this piece, the Children and Nature Network’s Sarah Milligan-Toffler and Richard Louv offer insight into why such camps are important.
In Singapore, outdoor education is a requirement in many schools, representing up to 20 percent of the curriculum. That number is likely to grow. The Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) recently announced that outdoor education will play an increasingly important role in education.
In Glasgow, Scotland, Play Scotland, a national organization concerned with the importance of play, organizes the community to fight for good quality play experiences for children, including access to green and wild spaces. The group hopes to be a model for communities developing wild areas across Scotland.
Japanese researchers say science may explain why a walk in the woods is good for the body and soul, suggesting that forest air contains beneficial substances including bacteria and plant oils.
Teens who manage ADHD, dyslexia and other learning disabilities find peace and calming at the Academy at SOAR, a boarding school in Balsam, NC. Outdoor learning combined with adventure sports, allows the minds of those who have ADHD and other disabilities to relax.
New research conducted by MaryCarol Hunter at the University of Michigan finds just ten minutes of exposure to nature, two to three times per week, produces positive mental health benefits. Much like medications, an “outdoor pill” prescription needs to be taken regularly and faces similar challenges. In order to help facilitate best results, Hunter suggests ideas for dense city areas as well as ways people can stay warm during the winter.
The American Heart Association recognizes the benefits of gardening and sponsors a Teaching Gardens program to help schools build gardens. Schools can apply online and if selected, AHA provides a planting day with all the materials needed to set up the garden, as well as demonstrations and garden-related activities. AHA also provides a Teaching Garden Tool Kit with educational lessons.
GoPlaces uses technology to connect teachers with free or reduced rate transportation to go on nature and science field trips. This year, the Ready, Set, GoPlaces initiative is partnering with local organizations to offer 50 free field trip busses for underserved Bay Area kids.
The Alaska Forest School is available to kids three and older, where children determine the curriculum each day. It is part of the forest school movement which represents a growing method of educating children outside of traditional classrooms. Forest schools provide students “learner-centered” opportunities to discover more about the natural world, and themselves.
The Lawson Foundation announced funding for 14 projects across Canada as part of its $2.7 million Outdoor Play Strategy. One of the recipients, Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Teaching at Okanagan College, is using the grant money to develop a training model for Early Childhood Educators’ (ECE) on the benefits of unstructured, outdoor play.
Researchers at the University of Utah recently received funding to study the therapeutic benefits of nature over the course of the next three years. Working with nonprofits and veterans, they hope to uncover how nature positively affects people and hopefully determine if certain outdoor activities fair better than others.