Connecting kids with nature
Five primary schools are participating in the WA Parks Foundation’s 2023 Nature Connection Education Program. They are Queens Park, Brookman, Hilton, Kingsley and Clifton Hills.
Since its launch in 2021, this well received program, made possible through generous funding support from the Australian Gas and Infrastructure Group, has involved 14 primary schools in the Perth and Peel regions.
The immersive eight-week program, designed and delivered by Educated by Nature, engages primary school students and their teachers in outdoor learning experiences within their local communities.
Research suggests that contact with nature is not just a vital aspect of human development but is also necessary for the ongoing conservation of our natural environments. Children who develop a sense of ownership and concern for the natural environment are likely to want to protect it in the longer term (Green, et al, 2022; Harris, 2021).
Nature play takes place in natural outdoor environments such as parks, forests, bushlands, beaches and gardens. Children typically engage in activities such as climbing, building, balancing, exploring and pretending while learning about the world around them. In so doing, they interact directly with natural elements in ways that are challenging physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally.
“Connection to nature is well recognised as being important for the physical and mental health of people of all ages and is also vital in developing communities that live with active principles of sustainability,” said WA Parks Foundation Chair, the Hon Kerry Sanderson AC CVO.
“Among elements of environmental stewardship are understanding and feeling part of nature, noticing changes in ecosystems, developing curious minds and feeling empowered to assist in protection and regeneration of natural assets.
“Sponsoring public sector schools which have limited resources has created an opportunity for primary school children to experience these programs which otherwise may not be within their reach.”
“I’ve learned how to respect nature and how to treat it. We need it to live. We need trees and bees and birds. I feel like when I go out here now, it has advanced my knowledge and my experience in nature.”
“We’ve been learning about little plants that only grow once a year. I feel excited about Nature Connection. I will tell other kids how to look after the plants and making sure that we don’t step on them.”