- Blog By
Ms. Sumita Sen Mazumdar
Erode – KG Academic Coordinator
The Indian Public School
January 28, 2020 | In Blog
Wandering amidst the beauteous splendour that is Mother Nature is a learning in itself. It awakens in each one of us, no matter our age, dormant forces that draw from inbuilt creative depths, that often fail to surface when in an artificial environment or simulated experiences.
Nature ~ a tool for exploration and learning
For a child’s mind to flower to the most glorious that it can be, where there is no limit to what it can imagine, implement and achieve, there must not only be nutritious food, daily movement, sleep and the right kind of learning but also a daily connection with the great outdoors. Moreover, a walk in nature has been known to therapeutically soothe and calm the most anxious or restless of minds, young or old.
Nature is a big part of TIPS early years learning
At any TIPS early years campus, children are actively encouraged by their facilitators (teachers) to connect with nature through free or guided play, nature walks and nature-themed art and craft. Nature walk is part of the regular curriculum for TIPS PREKG, KG1 & KG2. The children regularly go outdoors within the school campus along with their facilitators. Each child is given a small basket to carry and encouraged to explore and connect with any natural element they may see like fallen leaves or flowers, twigs, pebbles, seeds, etc. They lovingly bring back their collection to the classroom and after a short break assemble whatever they may have collected on a fabric square and share with the class what the arrangement or elements represent to them. This encourages imaginative thinking and develops conversation skills too.
As children progress through the three kindergarten grades, so do their nature walks and collectibles in terms of what they gather and how they present them. The same pebble which represented perhaps naught in PreKG other than the shape of a circle but was nevertheless assembled with care could become a hot air balloon with stems representing rope, and twigs and leaves making the basket to carry people, in KG2. So, the same elements could be more complexly presented over time as the expressive skills of children also develop.
Impacting the ability to learn
While some may argue that time spent outdoors takes away from time available to learn lessons, the benefits of connecting with nature far outweigh those from keeping a child indoors and trying to memorise facts. Time spent in nature is not only good for a child’s health but also actually improves their ability to learn. Experiential learning has been found to be far more effective than rote learning and when children walk amidst nature they are also learning to count, identify colours, pronounce out loud the names of different things they see and relate to them later when they read words in class.
Nature seems to have a positive impact not only on the physical and psychological well-being of a child but also helps increase concentration, attention span, brings about livelier engagement in class, regulates self-discipline and makes learning more fun. When children spend time amidst the natural environment, either unstructured where they are free to explore and observe or structured where gentle guidance is provided, the experience impacts their academic performance in a positive way. Being outdoors also has a significant influence in strengthening peer-to-peer bonds of friendship and camaraderie as well as student-teacher equations, especially for children who may be somewhat shy in the typical classroom environment.
Nature is our greatest teacher
Mother Nature is the prime source of natural ‘loose parts’— objects or materials that can be moved and combined in many different ways. Loose parts play is known to support invention, divergent thinking, problem solving and also giving a sense of wonder to children as they pretend play their way into different and creative avenues to find ‘solutions’.
‘Nature walk’ at TIPS Kindergarten is an integral part of the Extraordinary Education, Exposure and Experience that The Indian Public School envisions and strives to provide to all its students.