How much of your day did you spend outdoors as a kid? If someone asked me that question, the answer would be, well, most of it. My parents threw us into the backyard with shoes (if we wanted them) and our imaginations. We explored, we discovered, and we learned a whole lot about the world around us. We knew the importance of nature without being told- instead we saw that truth with our own eyes.
Kids don’t play outside as much anymore. That statement definitely varies based on location, but there’s a sad truth to the sentiment. With that, unintentional environmental education is lost. This means that as educators, especially science teachers, we have to be very intentional with our lessons.
Environmental education is critical for students. In order for a child to interact with the world around them, they need to understand the world around them. As educators, we need to provide opportunities for students to get curious and discover things on their own. I can’t begin to explain to you the excitement I saw last year when I took my class into our school garden. My students, who are used to the same maybe, three concrete blocks in their neighborhood, were suddenly natural explorers.
A WORM! MS. WIRTH, A WORM!
It took very little to excite them during that class period, but the little things that they were noticing lead to bigger lessons- understanding the interactions between all things on our planet, my students included!
Environmental education allows students to explore with very few boundaries. It provides an opportunity to genuinely study, without fear of mistake or concern for right and wrong. Observation trumps regurgitated knowledge. Whether a student is a hands on learner, a visual learner, or a problem solver- they can all be satisfied.
Currently we’re “stuck at home” and I have a feeling that most people are feeling a bit limited in their resources when it comes to “home schooling.” However, they’ve forgotten the biggest resource of all, waiting right outside their front door. While observing social distancing, spend time outside! Nature can be found in even the most city-esc environments! Trust me, it takes very little to get kids’ minds moving. I should know- I see it everyday.