Ruth Hill Elementary School first-graders Addisyn Keller (from left) Airalon Chatters, Henry Spethman, Jace Nguyen and Cooper Wiseman revel in getting their hands dirty back in 2012 as they help spread mulch around one of eight trees donated to the school by Black Hills Energy for a Nature Explore outdoor classroom.

ERIC GREGORY/Lincoln Journal Star file photo

I was encouraged to read “Get kids outside every single day” (Nov. 18).

How can we work to ensure that children experience an increased connectivity to their natural environment, increased creativity and ability to problem solve, increased observational awareness, improved focus and decreasing levels of stress, anxiety, anger and depression?

Young children need to be outside every day to explore. How many brand names does your child recognize? How many native plants and animals can they name?

Preschool and kindergarten curriculums are trending toward academics and away from play and nature-based activities. Developmental research regarding young children demonstrates young children learn best through play.

Social skills, vocabulary development, math skills and literacy are all developed through play. Long-term studies demonstrate early academic pressure may in fact harm children’s emotional and cognitive development as well as inhibit their desire and love of learning.

In addition to preschool programs that offer nature-based education, parents have an essential role to play. Watch your child at play in nature. What are his or her interests?

Ask your child questions about observations you make to inspire curiosity. Change your habits and get outside every day. Simplify schedules to allow more time for free play and nature exploration. Explore your neighborhood or your own backyard regularly. Use creativity to inspire play outside.

I recommend reading “How to Raise a Wild Child” by Scott Sampson or “Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature” by Jon Young. You will be in awe of what your child can learn through exploration.

Alexandra Cohoon, Lincoln


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