So LEAP is underway, and it's been great to see everyone jumping into water play, getting paint all over themselves, and having some sweet moments with books and blocks. As this series moves along, we will be sharing interesting insights into the social, emotional, and health benefits of nature play, but let's start by reflecting on our own experiences with nature.
As a child, I spent a lot of time with my sister and brothers in our backyard checking out worms and rollie pollies in the garden and walking over to the park to play monkey it and climb trees, and those memories still stick with me. Those experiences helped me to connect with nature and continue to build on that relationship throughout my life. There is increasing evidence that when children have frequent positive experiences and connections with nature at a young age that they are more likely to want to continue taking part in nature-based activities and in performing environmentally friendly behaviors (Cheng & Monroe).
So bringing your kids to the zoo on a regular basis, and especially having them come week after week to dig, paint, and build with natural materials and connect with the zoo animals at LEAP, is helping them create those positive connections and appreciation for nature. How did you connect with nature as a child? Did you ever go camping or hiking, climb trees in a local park, or explore your backyard?
Cheng, J. C. H., & Monroe, M. C. (2010). Connection to Nature: Children's Affective Attitude Toward Nature. Environment and Behavior.