How to encourage a child’s biophilia
How to encourage a child’s biophilia

How to encourage a child’s biophilia

The sight of children lugging large heavy bags while sprinting to school reveals how their schedules are dictated by aptitudes considered important by the modern world: tight class schedules, sports and exercise, homework, and chores. But not the natural world.

These school activities overlook the human body’s need for natural surroundings and undermine the importance of time spent outdoors. World Environment Day on 5 June is a time to consider teaching our children the importance of creating and protecting green spaces, to support their learning abilities and emotional manageability. It is never too early to start.

The human brain is at its most fertile as a child, and is capable of adapting and absorbing knowledge at an exceptional pace. It is also true that this stage of development is the most defining time for growing children.

The quality of a child’s experience (positive or negative) helps shape how their brains develop. Just as negative experiences such as being exposed to traumatic life events define a child’s perspective and personality, positive experiences like spending quality time outdoors can help boost brain development. The same study also demonstrates the positive benefits of spending time in nature for children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Even a simple walk in nature spurs concentration levels in children. Besides playing a key role in cognitive development, exposure to nature also has wide-ranging emotional, physical, and physiological benefits for children which is the reason outdoor learning education programs have started gaining popularity in recent years.

Physical activity and unstructured play are also important factors contributing to a child’s growth and development. While one fulfils the body’s physical needs, unstructured play triggers the creative side of the brain.

‘Forest Floors’, a Scandinavian concept, spurs early childhood development by recreating small patches of ‘forest’ in the playground. Just a little grass and some mud expose children to good microbes. If a small patch of transplanted forest floor can have this impact, imagine what consistent exposure to our natural surroundings could do.

There is a strong connection between nature and the overall growth process of children, which is why incorporating environmental education and psychology into the national curriculum as a primary subject has a compelling justification. While there may be a growing consensus among parents that children can gain knowledge from watching nature documentaries and working on conservation through the classroom, these second-hand adventures will never hold the same sensory and emotional impact as childhood discoveries beneath a moss-covered brick, or a pile of dried leaves.

According to Wilson’s (1984) well-regarded ‘ biophilia hypothesis ,’ humans are born with an innate affinity for nature. It asserts that human dependence on nature is not limited to material and physical sustenance but […]

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