EDUCATION – Schools, where children spend a significant amount of their time, have a tremendous opportunity to reconnect children with nature. Contact with nature has proven educational and developmental benefits. Historically, schools have planned field trips and arranged for school outreach programs, and schoolyards are often the nearest green spaces in neighborhood. Increasingly across Ohio, schools are being used as Community Learning Centers, making their facilities accessible to the community beyond the school day, seven days a week. This makes them even more valuable as “nearby nature” locations. With 55% of children under the age of six in child care centers, pre-schools and child care centers also play an important role in the effort to reconnect children with nature:
Strategy #6: Prepare formal and non-formal educators to incorporate environmental education into their teaching throughout their career.
The Environmental Literacy Plan under development in Ohio recommends pre-service training and on-going professional development for both formal and non-formal educators. The Plan includes strategies to encourage partnerships with experienced providers of environmental education programs that will translate environmental concepts into outdoor experiences. It also addresses the need to build confidence in teachers and addresses working with diverse audiences.
“Overwhelmingly, principals reported that recess has a strong positive impact on academic achievement. Students listened better and were more focused after recess. And principals widely agreed that recess positively impacts social development and well-being.”
– Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Report on “The State of Play” 2010