Children today spend less time playing in nature than their parents did, but there are a range of mental health benefits related to experiencing nature. Fortunately, educators can play a role in encouraging children to have meaningful experiences in nature by practicing nature pedagogy. There are a variety of Be You Resources that can support educators to do this.
What is nature pedagogy?
Claire Warden, an education consultant, states that nature pedagogy helps us to feel a sense of belonging to our land and feel connected. She says Nature Pedagogy includes, "The educational environments we create, the process of assessment and planning, and the learning journeys that we encourage children and families to take throughout childhood."
How do experiences in nature impact children’s mental health?
Research shows that nature positively influences children’s mental health. Experiences in nature reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Being in nature creates a greater sense of calm by lowering blood pressure and the production of stress hormones.
How can Be You support nature pedagogy?
Many Be You early learning services and schools have been implementing nature pedagogy for a number of years, and some are just beginning the journey. Educators have shared these experiences at National Check-Ins with Be You Consultants and educators around Australia - connecting their emerging nature pedagogy with their Be You learnings, and their broader focus and promotion of positive mental health within their learning community.
Always Be You is a suite of resources that can help you to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing and doing into your practice. The Always Be You eBook can support you to build and incorporate a nature pedagogy to support positive mental health in your learning community.
Always Be You uses a range of symbols that can help you unpack your was of doing things to consider different perspectives. These symbols can be used to further support nature pedagogy. For example:
Connect - Inclusivity, whole of population, whole person, relationships, others.
- In what ways can you support children to build connections to the land?
- Be, Feel, Think, Do - Head, heart, hands, feet. Respect, commitment, emotional balance, spiritual wellbeing, mindfulness, reflection.
- How can you encourage children’s wellbeing and emotional health through experience with nature?
Questions to consider:
How can you use the Always Be You resources to guide nature pedagogy in your service?
What mental health benefits have you seen within your learning community from time spent in nature?
We invite you to share your story at a Be You National Check-In event.