by Marsha Rakestraw
Here are three major truths we know about nature:
1. It’s really good for us.
Numerous studies demonstrate the many benefits of kids being out in the natural world, including this recent study showing that kids “connected to nature” achieved better SAT results.
2. None of us is getting enough nature.
For example, a recent two-year study by the English government revealed that more than a tenth of children in England “have not set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment” for at least a year. And children of color and those from lower socioeconomic families were the most likely to miss out on experiences in the natural world.
3. Nature is disappearing.
Between climate change, species extinction, development, and a multitude other human-caused factors, we’re losing huge chunks of the natural world and its nonhuman inhabitants at an alarming rate.
As Baba Dioum has said:
Although a sporadic number of schools and outdoor ed programs around the world are connecting young people with more exploration of and appreciation for the natural world, it’s not happening nearly enough.
We depend on the natural world for our very survival. Yet, with our culture and the exploitative systems we’ve developed over generations, we’ve tricked ourselves into believing otherwise.
As IHE president Zoe Weil said,
“One of the core elements of humane education is fostering reverence, appreciation, and wonder. Since we are inclined to care for and protect who and what we love, “falling in love” with the natural world … is a key ingredient for creating a peaceful, healthy and just world. … it’s critical to find those places that stir our awe and wonder.”
With humane education, our respect for and connection with the natural world becomes integrated into our very beings. Time in nature becomes a priority. We develop a passion for protecting the earth and its inhabitants. And we learn to strive to do the most good and least harm with our daily choices and the systems we support.
(Re)connecting with nature is a vital part of creating a better world for all.
Use our Pinterest board of resources to help connect kids and adults with the natural world.
For great reverence-building activities to promote curiosity and wonder, check out our lesson plans and activities focused on environmental protection.
And let’s feed our own souls by finding time to spend in nature every day – even if it’s just our yard, a neighborhood park, or a tree in a parking lot.