Direct experience in the natural world is known to have a tremendous impact on youth education. Research shows that nature-based education provides children with benefits across all age range and more so on diverse development aspects. These areas include mental health, physical health, cognitive development, learning and socio-emotional learning.
Nature-based Education programs help connect children with nature and diversifying their outdoor experience. Today’s generation is widely brought up indoors and rarely get a chance to go out and explore their natural habitat. Instead, most kids and youth spent more of their time watching television and playing video games on computers.
In this era of new technology, children have few opportunities to access free outdoor activities as compared to a few decades ago. One of the factors that have contributed to the shrinking of the physical boundaries is the ‘fear factor’ by parents. Most modern parents rarely let their children play alone outdoors sighting safety reasons.
Children who are nature-deprived may suffer health issues, attention difficulties, and childhood obesity, social and psychological problems. However, Richard Louv in his book, ‘The last child in the woods’ suggests, every aspect of a child’s growth is positively impacted when they have daily contact with nature.
Integrating nature-based education programs in youth education help them to develop real skills through play and learning. By actually getting out into the environment, they learn by constructing their knowledge about the world around them without having to memorize facts.
In fact, exposing a child to an outdoor playground that is massively naturalized considerably increases his interest in knowledge of nature. Studies found out that children participate more in creative forms of play when exposed to a natural environment. This is especially important in developing a child’s creativity, problem-solving as well as intellectual development.
Outward Bound Canada
Outward Bound Canada (OBC) is a nature education program in Canada whose primary objective is to cultivate resilience, leadership, compassion and connections through interaction with the real natural world. The organization is in the forefront to foster nature-based education and social innovation.
They do this by partnering with various organizations such as high schools, universities, community groups, government agencies and other learning institutions across Canada. The range of services offered by OBC offers help in youth education, training and in enhancing both capacity building as well as leadership.
The programs offered by OBC are tailored to suit the needs of students who are academically motivated and have the interest in outdoor learning. By using an integrated adventure-oriented approach, the student learns, self-discovery, develop self-esteem, and self-confidence which are essential features of a successful learning experience.
OBC nature program offers youth training which encourages cohesion among the young people through working together as a team. It also encourages the appreciation of each other’s strengths and differences as well as the benefits of living together in harmony.
OBC also offer custom group programs such as custom urban, custom wilderness and professional development programs. All these programs are aimed at supporting adventurous experiential education right at the student’s backyard. For instance, Custom urban program serve youth and adults who live in urban settings and those seeking nature-based education close to home.
The Nature Conservancy Of Canada
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is an organization whose vision is to protect and conserve areas of natural diversity in Canada for the benefit of the present children and future posterity. In this current era, the earth’s biological biodiversity is facing imminent threats.
Human beings are engaging in activities which impoverish our quality of lives and threaten our future existence. However, NCC realizes the need for people to sustain themselves, live productively and ensure they conserve the ecosystem for the benefit of everyone. For this, NCC offers people an opportunity to connect with nature by experiencing it first-hand.
NCC’s conservation volunteers program engages Canadians of all ages in the conservation of the country’s natural habitats and biodiversity. These provide meaningful hands-on educational experiences through nature in some of the country’s most significant ecosystems. It is believed that when people experience doing things first-hand, they learn fast and get the urge to know more.
Involving the young in a youth training nature-based education programs through group volunteering is both fun and educative. NCC provides customized group events developed to meet the needs of any team irrespective of their age group. This can be in a form of an organized group trip to a nearby conservational reserve or an in-office workshop.
Forest School Canada
Forest school Canada (FSC) is an educational initiative of Child and Nature Alliance of Canada. This action program implements a nature-based educational approach where students spend most of their time learning in an outdoor setting. FSC educational program is in existence due to the concern that youth participation in outdoor activities has drastically declined in recent years. Research shows that an average child spends less than 30 minutes of unstructured outdoor play every day. And more than 7 hours in front of a television screen. As a result, childhood obesity cases and mental health problems are on the rise.
Connection with the real world is vital to a child’s mental and physical growth according to research. Therefore, FSC endeavors to integrate together various elements that help counteract physical and psycho-social deficits associated with disconnection from nature. FSC offer opportunities for children to participate in activities related to nature where they learn about environmental issues hands-on. By exposing them to areas with rich biodiversity. They become well informed and learn to conserve their environment and the ecosystem at large.
Several learning approaches are used that arouses the child’s innate desire to learn and explore the environment. Inquiry-based is a method, once outdoors the kids use their intuition. And out of these experiences, they ask questions and learn by doing. A significant adult help to support these processes through further investigation and inquiry and the results are always fruitful. This approach encourages the children and the youth to know that learning can be much fun and adventurers as well. This leads to a lifelong passion to learn and build on a natural curiosity about the world they live in.