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

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2 The interconnections between human and environmental health

In the previous session you were introduced to the concept of biophilia and the idea that humans might ‘need’ nature to flourish. Drawing upon attachment theory, the implication is not just that humans need to spend time ‘in’ nature, but to be ‘with’ nature – in the sense of being open, attentive and responsive – if they are to develop strong, secure and lifelong attachments. In their exploration of what they term children’s human nature connection (HNC), Giusti et al. (2018) found that there are three progressive stages:

  1. feeling comfortable in natural spaces
  2. feeling attached to natural spaces
  3. taking care of nature.

Their argument is that if children are to learn to care for nature, they need to first feel comfortable in natural environments, then to develop attachments. Look at Figure 2 and think about what the baby is experiencing and feeling.

A toddler sitting on the ground surrounded by flowers.
Figure 2 Growing up green

Surrounded by lavender bushes, there is likely to be a strong sensory reaction, from the smell, the texture of the lavender, the sound of bees humming as they collect nectar. The baby is bare foot and sitting directly on the ground and looks relaxed and content. Using Giusti et al.’s (2018) framework, comfortable is an appropriate term to describe the baby in this context.