Children’s Direct Experience With The Nearby Natural Environments

Have you ever had this experience of taking your children or class to the biggest zoo or the wildest forest in your city to find out that all they are interested in is climbing fences, catching spiders, or collecting tiny stones?! You may wonder why you spent all the money and energy to introduce them to the wild while they were just excited to explore the regular and familiar things.

You shouldn’t feel disappointed at all. The research is completely supporting your experience. Direct and regular experience with ordinary and nearby natural areas is far more interesting and valuable during childhood. What usually takes children’s attention, makes them talk about nonstop, and encourages them to further investigate are not necessarily very complex or unusual things in nature. Isolated, occasional, and out of the context contacts with nature are less engaging and exciting, because children do not have enough time and a good body of knowledge and experience to either understand them or develop an intimate and meaningful relationship with them. Children maybe more interested, curious, and care to learn about what they can find in their school yard than some distant endangered species or exotic animals.

The familiarity of childMy daughter and her father found a 'dinosaur egg' in a ravine close to our home. ren plays an important role and also they can repeat their experience when it’s in their nearby neighborhood and a part of their everyday life. These are the key things if you wish to build on their natural interests and passions.

Do you have any thoughts to share?


2 comments on “Children’s Direct Experience With The Nearby Natural Environments

  1. Mona Meyer says:

    I read this entry and totally agree. Two years ago we took my daughter to the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago. It boasts to be one of the best zoos in the US. The best part of the visit for my daughter was not the exotic animals but the Butterfly conservatory inside the zoo and the horse carousel.

    This past summer we took her to a small petting zoo near where we live. It was small family run farm but Lea had a blast. She really enjoyed all the animals especially the barn cat.

    My husband and I have decided to keep our outings low key and low budget, Lea has more fun and more money in our pockets. Win-win situation.


  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. With all the advertisement trying hard to tell us we need to spend money to make our children happy, successful, and healthy, it’s really hard to see what’s there for free! It’s hard to resist not to overcrowd every minute of their time with something super exciting, loud, full of colour, fast, and sometimes even violent.
    My experience is that if you introduce children to the real excitement, fun, and color, it’s harder to sell them the ‘virtual’ and often fake version. My daughter, 5 and half years old, can’t play a video game or sit at the computer for more than half an hour, often it’s even 10 minutes. She wants to touch, to feel, to make, to break, to listen … and she wants them all hands-on. Going outside, she’s in her second home, free to run and touch and more important to imagine, make stories and play roles.

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