Intrinsic Connections: Nature and Ecological Literacy in Early Childhood

A session to Support Your Nature Education Exploration and Forest School Inquiry, with Sinéad Rafferty.

Children are often the first to notice a worm crawling on a sidewalk, a puddle to jump in, or a ladybug resting on a slide. They are also notorious for pocket-filled collections of rocks, sticks or leaves. If children come into the world intrinsically connected to “nature” and biologically designed to form attachments with the world, then what are we doing as educators, and more broadly as a culture, to nurture such connections?

This interactive workshop explored modern trends in thinking about “nature” and how this influences practice in early childhood education. The current movement to connect children and nature is an important one, but seems to be moving forward without deeper and more critical considerations of what “nature” is. Through hands-on, collaborative, and reflective experiences, participants explored meanings of “nature” and ecological literacy as it relates to our life and early childhood practice. Participants investigated meanings of “nature-deficit disorder” in the lives of children and ourselves. This workshop helped to deepen our understanding and perception of “nature” so that educators may more genuinely tune into children’s emerging relations with the world.

What Participants Had to Say

“I will use this information to strengthen my connection to and fuel my passion for outdoor learning and guide the children to see their surroundings as part of their learning.”
“This experience will help me define my objectives in the field of ECE and improve my programming.”
“This session will help to identify our own ideologies/philosophies about nature, realizing everyone is in a different place. This is imperative to support the development of a connection to nature in children.”
“I enjoyed the various activities outside as well as the support from the Forest School, promoting children’s learning through nature.”