Importance of nature in early childhood

Here are some articles supporting the importance of nature to children's development.

10 ways to get your kids out in nature, and why it matters: In his book, Louv shares many studies that have shown that spending time in nature has tremendous health benefits, among them improved concentration, a greater ability to engage in creative play, an aid to help treat mental illness (in particular ADHD and depression), and exercise that beats out organized sports with its hour-to-hour physical activity. Children who spend more time in nature develop better motor fitness and coordination, especially in balance and agility.  The Washington Post. Read full article.

The Power of Nature: Ecotherapy and AwakeningBut as well as helping us to heal our minds, contact with nature can transform us. For several years, I have done research into what I call ‘awakening experiences’ – moments when our vision of our surroundings becomes more intense (so that they become more beautiful and meaningful than normal), and we feel a sense of connectedness to them, and towards other people. Psychology Today. Read full article.

Nature Helps Fight ADHD: Spending Time Outdoors Helps Kids With ADHD  Spending time in "green" settings reduced ADHD symptoms in a national study of children aged 5 to 18.

The study was done by Frances Kuo, PhD, and Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. WebMD.  Read full article

5 Minutes with Nature Can Boost Mental Health "We believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with green exercise," said co-researcher Jo Barton. Live Science. Read full article. 

The Nature Cure: Why some doctors are writing prescriptions for time outdoors Smith is an ecotherapist, a practitioner of nature-based exercises intended to address both mental and physical health. Which means she recommends certain therapies that trigger in me, as a medical doctor, more skepticism than serenity: Listen to birdsong, in your headphones if necessary. Start a garden, and think of the seeds’ growth as a metaphor for life transitions. The Atlantic. Read full article.

Got Nature? Why You Need to Get Out

In our increasingly urbanized world, it turns out that a little green can go a long way toward improving our health, not just that of the planet.
That could mean something as simple as a walk in the park or just a tree viewed through a window. It's not necessarily the exercise that is the key. It's the refreshing contact with nature and its uncomplicated demands on us. Live Science. Read full article.

Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation: Urbanization has many benefits, but it also is associated with increased levels of mental illness, including depression. It has been suggested that decreased nature experience may help to explain the link between urbanization and mental illness. Read full article.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 


Those who play...

Nothing lights up the brain like play.

Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humour.  Stuart Brown, MD

importance of play

By definition, play is purposeless, all-consuming, and fun. But as Dr. Stuart Brown, play specialist & psychiatrist,  illustrates, play is anything but trivial. It is a biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition. We are designed by nature to flourish through play. 

early play
When an infant makes eye contact with her mother, each experiences a spontaneous surge of emotion (joy). The baby responds with a radiant smile, the mother with her own smile and rhythmic vocalizations (baby talk). This is the grounding base of the state-of-play. The National Institute for Play. Stuart Brown says that every bit of more complex play builds on this base for us humans. 

Ted Talk by Stuart Brown, MD

Want more information?:
You can purchase Stuart Brown's Book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul a book on the science of play, and its essential role in fueling our intelligence and happiness throughout our lives.


Leaf art creations

The transient nature of leaf art ... I love it. I also love how children create little pieces of art everywhere and it is ephemeral and they have no attachment, they just move on. 

It is only me that gets them to take photos (or I take them) and it is only us grown ups that collect their art work - they have no care: they have moved on to the next moment.

The great thing about this activity is that you need to buy no supplies they are in nature and you need no preparation or clean up... just go for a walk with a toddler and pick up some fallen leaves. Oh, and if you think this is not art I suggest you check out this post Nature art inspired by Andy Goldsworthy 

Leaf art creations
Autumn leaf contrasts with the black textured background

Leaf art creations with preschool children
Arrangement of Leaves on ground
Stained glass effect with light shining through
leaf art
Photinia Rainbow
leaves and hessian art and craft
The addition of hessian as a base to work on

toddlers Leaf art
Interesting design at RESURRECTION fern

Babies and the importance of ritual

Babies and  ritual

Imagine what it’s like to be an infant. The world is all brand new — a fascinating, stimulating sensory delight — but the constant transitions, surprises and novelty can be intense and overwhelming. Combine that with the fact that we are growing, changing more rapidly than we ever will, so even what we know can feel different the next day. (Like the way my adolescent daughter feels when she wakes at noon and thinks the kitchen table and her mom have shrunk because she’s grown a half inch.)

We need responsive, reliable parents and caregivers to feel secure, but wouldn’t it also be nice to depend on some daily experiences? To be able to predict, for example, that after our morning meal and diaper change we’ll go to a familiar place to play. Or know that after our dinner and evening bath we will enjoy a book, close the shades, hear a lullaby we’ve begun to recognize and be gently placed in a cozy bed to sleep.

In a life full of changes we cannot control, creating routines and rituals is one of the most respectful and empowering things we can do for our babies... 
read more from the marvellous Janet Lansbury. 
Elevating Child Care by Janet Lansbury

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting

Janet Lansbury’s advice on respectful parenting is quoted and shared by millions of readers worldwide. Inspired by the pioneering parenting philosophy of her friend and mentor, Magda Gerber, Janet’s influential voice encourages parents and child care professionals to perceive babies as unique, capable human beings with natural abilities to learn without being taught; to develop motor and cognitive skills; communicate; face age appropriate struggles; initiate and direct independent play for extended periods; and much more.
Find out more about this book


Songs and rhymes to get kids moving

We love kids moving because when they are moving they are learning.  Songs with actions are an excellent learning medium for young children. They are listening and responding, they are anticipating and moving, they are developing their vocabulary and movement skills. Also moving feeds the brain by using and developing neural connections.
Here are some simple songs and rhymes that encourage movement. I have chosen songs that are short and simple so they can be achieved by most children sometimes with a little adaption. Just click on the link to get the lyrics and the activity:

Pretty Pintastic Party


National Literacy and Numeracy Week

National Literacy and Numeracy Week poster 2015

1..2..3.. a..b..c..

Literacy and numeracy do not begin when we start school. They begin in early childhood. 
Literacy and numeracy are not just about reading, writing and mathematics but the many preparatory skills required for developing them. These are often called pre literacy and pre numeracy skills. 
You can introduce these skills to children through everyday activities when reading, shopping, singing or cooking. Some of the skills include:

  • Understanding size, shape, and patterns
  • Recognizing that numbers have a value
  • Identifying quantity such as big and small and more and less
  • Matching things
  • Sorting things

  • pre numeracy game

    This year Australia celebrates literacy and numeracy on the 29 August – 4 September. Digital Literacy is being introduced this year to raise awareness of the importance of digital literacy as one of the foundation skills for the workforce in the 21st Century.
    What will you do for Literacy and Numeracy week this year? You  can join in here


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