Returning to nature—Educators get their hands in the dirt

HiDC1This past weekend, many full-day kindergarten teams had the pleasure of attending the Hands in the Dirt conference at the SCDSB Education Centre.

The conference discussed the benefit of learning outdoors and demonstrated how natural spaces could be used to enrich all areas of development and instil a lifelong love of learning in our students.

When given the opportunity to explore nature, children actively connect with the world in a meaningful and ultimately educational way. They observe what is around them, ask questions, experiment, reflect on what they have experienced, and draw their own conclusions. They are self-motivated and develop their own interests and a love for nature.

HiD4In turn, we, as adults, are in the position to observe and experiment alongside them, provide them with the resources they need to develop hypothesis into fact, and encourage them to share their findings with others—we are flexible and nurturing.

A seemingly simple nature walk or hike can become a topic for oral language development, a complex scientific discussion about native plant species, inspiration for art and music, a trigonometry lesson to calculate the height of a tree, an opportunity for leadership, or a lesson in patience and self-regulation—the possibilities are endless.

HiD3As the conference drew to a close, many participants were eager to return to the classroom and use the lessons they had learned—the excitement was palpable.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of outdoor education, take a look at the Forest and Nature School in Canada: A Head, Heart, Hands Approach to Outdoor Learning document which can be found here.