As an educator, I am an advocate for nature based learning, and believe that children are given many opportunities to learn through play in nature based learning. Opportunities that we give children to experience nature, enhances children’s sense of joy and wonder in the world around them, no matter the location. Providing children with daily opportunities to explore within nature, will help them strengthen their connections, as well as improve and support many of their developmental domains. (How Does Learning Happen, 2016).
Studies have shown that children today, spend only half as much time playing outdoors as their parents did, which is why it is extremely important for both educators and parents to be aware of why nature based learning is so important, especially when it comes to children exploring the natural outdoor environments. (The Guardian, 2016). The benefits of connecting to nature leads to the improvement of children’s developmental domains that include, social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and language. It also increases children’s physical activity, as well as improves their academic performance. (Natural Learning Initiative, 2012).
As an educator, I also value and recognize the importance of children engaging with loose parts. Loose parts are open-ended materials, that has no specific set of directions on how to use them. Children are able to use their creative and imaginative skills to create and use them however they want. Another benefit of loose parts, is the idea that is low-cost, and educators and parents do not have to go out of their way to put them in store, but rather they can find them within their home or classroom.
In regards to Loris Malaguzzi, I am influenced on his beliefs regarding the child-centered approach. Children are powerful, capable, and competent learners, and have the ability to and desire to construct their own knowledge. (Compass School, 2017).
Natural Learning Intitative. (2012). Benefits of connecting children with nature. Retrieved from https://naturalearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Benefits-of-Connecting-Children-with-Nature_InfoSheet.pdf
The Guardian. (2016). Children spend only half as much time playing outside as their parents did. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/27/children-spend-only-half-the-time-playing-outside-as-their-parents-did
Ontario Government. (2016). How Does Learning Happen: Ontario’s pedagogy for the early years. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/howlearninghappens.pdf
The Compass School. (2017). Who Is Loris Malaguzzi. Retrieved from https://www.thecompassschool.com/blog/who-is-loris-malaguzzi/
NAT4352 Course Notes. (2018). Week 12: Values and Beliefs. [PowerPoint presentation].