Nature-Rich Curriculum (continued)
Research in brain development shows that the use of hands trains the brain to focus, to organize itself and to plan. These are foundational skills for future successful academic learning. When a child spends time working with her/his hands, the brain and hand work in unison shaping new pathways between the neurons.
The quality of materials we offer determines how children use their hands. Imagine playing with commercial toys. In most cases you will find bright colors, smooth shiny surfaces, straight lines, crisp corners and abrasive sounds. Monotonous shapes result in monotonous hand and finger movements. Such toys lack the ability to promote inquiry and easily lead to boredom. Natural materials are rich in hues, forms, temperature, texture, aromas and shape. They have a captivating ability to move, mold, and change color and shape with movement of the hands, with changes in temperature, humidity or wind. Soil, clay, leaves of different shapes and colors, grasses, bark, sticks, seeds, pebbles, rocks, flowers and bugs encourage children to spend time touching, moving, poking, squishing, rubbing and taking apart. Fingers are spread wide to grasp a round stone or put together in a very precise way to gently hold the smallest seed. Hands and fingers move in a variety of ways to explore the object at hand, to move it and to see that with every move something changes: a reflection of light, an appearance of color, a new texture on a different side of a leaf.
Because each material causes children to move the hand in different ways, variety is key. A natural environment stimulates thinking and provides children with challenging and complex learning experiences. This in turn, supports the vigorous development of brain functions in joy filled and beautiful ways.
Our nature-rich education creates strong foundation for holistic learning.