There are many benefits for children and youth when they play outdoors. They can move vigorously, release energy, use loud voices, and engage in messy projects. In addition, children can experience the plants and animals living in their local ecosystem.
Children learn at their own pace
Natural learning is defined as a philosophy of learning during which children develop skills and learn according to their own natural growth cycles and during which each child can learn at his or her own pace in their own unique way. Another pillar of naturalized learning is a carefully designed environment providing children with what they need to successfully grow and learn.
Natural learning means children are learning on their own natural timeline and are not pushed to learn things before they are developmentally ready or forced to do meaningless tasks. It emphasizes a natural development using Mother Nature along with the home or classroom environment to support a child's learning experiences.
Important keys to learning
The most important concepts for natural learning are trust and belief. At its foundation, educators and parents need to believe and trust that children are capable. Otherwise, too much control is removed from their learning experiences. Children are not given the opportunity to develop understanding and learning in a natural way. Natural learning embraces their curiosity for and delight in learning in order to develop a lifelong passion.
A natural learning philosophy understands the importance of each child’s unique individual journey. The best learning happens when children can follow their interests, use their skills, and have adaptations based on their needs. Natural learning provides a platform and an environment where children can blossom and flourish at their own pace.
Trusting in these tenets for your unique child can be difficult for a parent. Traditional methods of learning rely on techniques such as worksheets, repetition, drills, 'cookie cutter' crafts, and other forced learning behaviors.
If you need help trusting the natural learning process, stand back and observe your children engage with the natural world around them. Pay attention to the choices they are making as they play and explore. What do you see? What unique things are they creating?
It may be difficult to find resources and materials to help you support natural learning. Many programs are adult-directed and require children to reproduce the same things mainly for the sake of assessment and testing. To find materials to support natural learning, look at your environment.