The preschoolers have been interested in exploring the neighbourhood around our center. To help extend this curiosity, we have been taking regular walks. Children have a say in the direction we go and each walk has led us to a different path to explore.
The outdoor environment is our third teacher by letting us observe and explore what we find along the way. Many of the children have been very interested in picking up sticks and collecting rocks. They are excited to bring back their treasures and share what they have found.
There are so many benefits to connecting with nature as it supports multiple developmental domains such as physical, emotional, and social skills:
- The physical aspect is being able to walk along the trails and manage the varying terrains of pavement, gravel, grass and dirt. Children enjoy running the trails with no obstacles in their way.
- The emotional connection to nature helps the children appreciate the outdoor environment by connecting with animals, plants and loose parts such as sticks and leaves.
- Socially the children are able to walk together and practice conversation skills by talking to each other and their educators about what they are finding on their walks and asking questions.
We have observed many things on our walks. One of the trails that we have been going on took us to a man-made pond and we have spotted Canadian geese there a couple of times. The educators have been helping the children understand how we share environments with wild life; the outside environment is the geeses' home. We walk very quietly along the trail so we don’t disturb them and show respect by being calm around them.
While watching the geese, we heard Maya and Faisal say, “The geese are taking a bath.” Also during our walk, we saw a couple of caterpillars. Alexander said, “I am scared of caterpillars because they look scary.”
We are excited to watch the season's change and what we observe while on our walks.