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

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2.2 Nature Friendly Nurseries

In the next activity you will meet Professor Jan White whose work you were introduced to in Session 4. Here she is talking about a concept she calls Nature Friendly Nurseries.

Activity 3 Nature friendly nurseries

Timing: Allow 20 minutes

Watch the video, and then have a go at responding to the questions below.

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  • What do you understand by nature friendly nurseries?
  • What do you think Jan means by a child’s ecological identity?
  • What do you think about the idea that nature can care for humans?
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The focus of Nature Friendly Nurseries is the biodiversity and natural richness of the outdoor space. Jan references the idea of the child being immersed, embedded and emplaced in nature. There is now strong research evidence that ‘spending time in natural environments as a child is associated with adult pro-environment attitudes and feelings of being connected with the natural world and is also associated with a stronger sense of place’ (Gill, 2011, p. 8).

Ecological identity here relates to the way in which children can experience a sense of being part of nature rather than separate to it. They understand that they share the world with the rest of nature. For this to be developed, natural elements need to be built into outdoor spaces for the youngest children, so they are able to ‘grow up green’ and to become ‘agents of care for the natural world’ (Chawla, 2009, p. 6).

The idea that not only can we learn to care for nature, but that nature can care for us, takes us back to the previous session. Here we explored the ways in which humans might need nature to flourish and how spending time in nature can restore our sense of health and wellbeing.