Engaging With Nature

Engaging With Nature

13 April 2017

In a community where technology is readily available to children of all ages, the Department of Conservation has noted that fewer children are experiencing nature directly.  Although they may be learning about the natural environment, their hands-on experience is declining leading to a disconnect between learning about and experiencing nature.

There are many positive outcomes for children’s mental, emotional and physical health and well-being when they experience the natural environment directly, such as:

  • Increase in self-esteem and resilience against stress and adversity
  • Improved concentration, learning, creativity, cognitive development, co-operation, flexibility and self-awareness
  • Can help to prevent childhood obesity.

Research has also shown that through positive experiences in nature, children will develop their love of nature and a foundation for the development of responsible environmental behaviour.  Studies have also shown that adults who demonstrate a commitment to protect the natural world suggests that childhood experience with nature plays a critical role in determining life attitudes, knowledge or behaviours regarding the environment.

“We need to allow children to develop their biophilia, their love for the Earth, before we ask them to academically learn about nature and become guardians of it”

As children have regular contact with the natural world, they develop empathy and a love of nature.  Some of the best ways to encourage and inspire children to engage with the natural world is to allow them to spend time through self-initiated exploration and discovery in local, familiar environments such as parks, bush walks, and beaches.  Providing regular and unstructured opportunities for children to have hands-on experience with nature cultivates a sense of wonder.

At Nurtured at Home, children can experience the natural world around them on a regular basis, both at home nurturing vegetable gardens, in the community at local parks and places of interest, and on Discovery Days visiting and exploring bush areas and beaches.


Information from New Zealand Department of Conservation