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Young children, the outdoors and nature
Young children, the outdoors and nature

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1 Looking back and looking around

A photograph of a child looking at their reflection in a puddle.

The recognition that children benefit from being outdoors has been around for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years. Jay Griffiths in her book Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape (2013) describes how:

For almost all of human history … This is how childhood thrives, cheek to cheek with the kind and thriving wildness, not in the modified and lustreless indoor life which would sterilize every drop of water and suffocate the air itself.

(Griffiths, 2013, p. 123)

The idea that simply ‘being’ outdoors in a natural environment is good for babies and toddlers has long roots and is recognised in the writing of various early childhood pioneers. The next section includes a timeline of some key thinkers and their ideas about young children’s engagement with nature and the outdoors.