Remember your favorite teacher growing up?
Chances are, she inspired a love of learning in you. She probably told stories, showed examples, and helped connect the dots between lessons learned in the classroom and those in the outside world.
That’s just what nature can do for you and your students: inspire a love of learning, provide examples you can feel, and, most importantly, connect what we learn to how it can help our planet. Nature is a common denominator that we all share—and a wonderful natural teacher, too!
Although nature is all around us, getting students to connect to the natural world is often difficult, given the daily distractions of full schedules, screens, and information coming from all directions.
Yet the benefits we get from nature are endless.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is also good at connecting the dots.
Our long history of working to protect land and water in Indiana, across the United States, and around the world has helped bring together people and communities to find practical solutions to nature’s biggest challenges. Here at TNC, we know that if we protect nature, it will protect us.
Connecting to nature helps improve the health and well-being of children, their families, and their communities.
What’s more, nature can help kids become better learners. And, by learning more, we can help kids care more about the natural world and why they should help protect it. After first hearing the song of a bird through a website, kids can then listen for that sound outdoors and even hear it before they spot it in a tree. When you can identify an animal, you know what it is, and you probably care about it a little more than before you knew its name.
According to Solutions Journal, kids today can identify about 1,000 corporate logos, but few can identify more than a handful of native plant and animal species.
We all learn differently, whether it’s by sight, sound, touch, or interaction. Nature connects all the dots and is something that kids can experience using all their senses. Bringing nature into the classroom or, better yet, taking your kids out into nature, will stimulate their senses and help them connect what they learn in the classroom to the outside world.
With your help, your students could have a second favorite teacher: Mother Nature!
Author: Mary McConnell, Director, The Nature Conservancy Indiana Chapter