According to recent studies, time spent outdoors has numerous health benefits for children, including improved distance vision, enhanced social skills, and even a potential reduction in ADHD symptoms.
No matter the weather, your preschooler’s natural curiosity will be the perfect complement to the health and educational benefits of nature. Here are some suggestions for helping your preschooler learn about nature.
Reduce screen time
A study by the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation found that American children and teens spend over 53 hours per week with entertainment media. As we discussed in a previous article, children over the age of two should have screen time reduced to two hours per day at a maximum. Teaching healthy technology habits to your child early on will help him more naturally gravitate towards outdoor play.
Make outdoor learning a family activity
Getting the entire family involved in learning about nature will help your preschooler feel included and have fun, whether it’s a day in the garden or a simple walk in the park. Modeling a love of nature will encourage your preschooler to follow in your footsteps, and foster an interest in plants, animals, and the way the natural world works.
Encourage outdoor free play
Children learn through play, so take some time to let your preschooler interact freely with the world around her and follow her own curiosity. You don’t need to necessarily explain to her how snowflakes are formed or how trees grow, but you can make snowballs together or let her examine the texture of bark. Allowing her to indulge in sensory play outdoors will inspire her to find answers to questions about nature – and ask new ones.
Don’t be discouraged by bad weather
Spring and summer are not the only times children should be learning about nature. No matter what climate you live in, there are always numerous things your child can discover outdoors. In winter, he can look for animal tracks in the snow or bird’s nests in the trees. In rainy weather, he can go hunting for worms or play with mud. No matter the weather, ensure everyone’s dressed appropriately and safely.
Ask your preschool for suggestions
A good preschool will provide ample opportunities for regular, age-appropriate outdoor play. Ask your child’s preschool teacher for suggestions on how you can encourage your preschooler to learn about nature. Not only will the teacher have several ideas backed by research in early childhood education, but she also knows what your child will respond to.
An interest in the natural world encourages your child’s curiosity, creativity, and inspires a life-long love of learning. Helping your child learn about nature is easy and fun, in any kind of weather.