Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Children & Nature, Together.

This week was a good one for going out. The weather was warm, but not overwhelming. The rain was on holiday. Around a small bend, below the Klang Gates reservoir, a small stream was starting it's journey past the first few houses and onward to the Klang River and beyond. It was the perfect time to get kids outdoors - our third graders to be exact. 

This was their second trip there, to the clean waters or the small stream. The groups were smaller than previous visits and this gave it a different feel. It was the feel of being visitors, not tramplers. It was the feel of seeing, not being seen. It was quieter and friendlier and more authentic. 

The students were joined by a number of parents (thank you!) and their teachers, participating in Earth Echo's World Water Monitoring Challenge which allowed them a bit more time to analyse, observe, discuss and assess the state of this small habitat from a scientific perspective. The students took water temperatures, tested for sulphates and phosphates and pH and all that fun stuff, entering their data into their worksheets.

Miraculous things happened. They were awed by the dragonflies. Talked about the fish darting this way and that. They put their feet in the water and removed things that didn't belong there. They observed the woodpecker knocking away at the tree above them. They noticed the color of the water (or lack thereof). In short, they were engaged in nature, pure and simple. Even when they were not "on task" they were part of it. 

Richard Louv, a renowned writer about children and nature who wrote Last Child in the Woods, highlights the positive relationship and long-term benefits of children in nature. Among other things his research (and blog) highlights, time and time again, both the immediate and life long benefits of child-nature interaction. 

Louv would have approved with the experiences of our grade 3 students this week, but perhaps not as much as the the children themselves approved. They seemed well adapted and very content in this environment, and happy too. As it should be. 

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