The natural world has a powerful and an unexpected way of capturing young minds! The wind suddenly blowing across our face, our hands slowly sinking into the soil, or seeing our little seed blossom in full stride.
Researcher identifies this type of attention as "involuntary attention" and strongly advocate that time spent in involuntary attention may actually be giving our voluntary attention an important time of rest (Kaplan, 1995, and Taylor, Kuo, & Sullivan, 2001). For instance, focusing on a math problem, or writing letters require voluntary attention Involuntary attention is when we don’t mean to pay attention to something, but our brain shifts our focus anyway (an animal making noise, the sound of thunder, the smell of lilacs, etc.). To conclude, connecting with nature is a powerful tool, and children need time outside to be ready to learn inside.
How do we encourage outdoors for your children?
In our nature-inspired Pre-School, we believe in learning through the lens of the natural environment. Often, weather conditions can be a deterrent to safe outdoor play for children, and thus in such situations we try to bring the outdoors inside by collecting some natural materials for children to sort, count, pattern with, draw, and observe.
The educator can be seen engaged in the planting process with the learner who enjoyed writing about her planting experience.Children learn about responsibility as they care about plants and when they watch them grow or discover them die they understand the cause and effect of such processes. In addition, young learners gain confidence from achieving their goals and enjoying the food they have grown and also, learn about the science of plants, animals, weather, the environment, and nutrition.