No Child Left Inside: Connecting Children, Nature and Learning

At the end of the school day, 7-year-old Tyler carries his muddied, wet clothes in a bag like a trophy, greeting his mom with a huge smile and shouts ‘I did it, I caught some tadpoles’. His mother sees the joy in his face and the enthusiasm for adventure and learning. She knows he will sleep well tonight and be ready for another day.

As an educator, I know this 45-minute trip to the creek to observe, catch and then graph the life cycle of frogs is more than a fun outing. I see a lesson that incorporates all the benefits of nature with developmental movement, positive social dynamics and relevant content. I see a student who took on a task so momentous that it required a complete change of clothing, and was triumphant. The confidence of such an outing translates to the courage necessary to take on new learning in the classroom. The physical exertion and time in nature helps to calm the nervous system and focus the mind which is required for the math lesson later in the day.

In his recent best-selling book Last Child In The Woods, Richard Louv points to the increasing alienation between children and nature as a contributor of childhood anxiety, attention deficit disorders, and development delays in our children. Louv defines this condition as Nature Deficit Disorder.

At Caulbridge School we know that learning is a natural process when you integrate nature, arts, movement, friendship and academics.