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    green moss and pine needles

    Why Children Need Nature

    By Friedrich Froebel

    July 2, 2021

    Available languages: français

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    If we are fully to attain our destiny, so far as earthly development will permit this, if we are to become truly unbroken living units, we must feel and know ourselves to be one, not only with God and humanity, but also with nature.

    Consequently, parents and family should regard contact with nature as one of the chief moving forces of the life of the child, and should make it as full and rich as possible. And the best means is play, for at first play is the child’s natural life.

    The human being, especially in childhood, should become closely acquainted with nature – not merely with its details and forms, but with the divine spirit that is contained within it. This the child needs and feels deeply. Where this sense of nature is still unspoiled, nothing unites teacher and pupil so closely.… Teachers should regularly take their classes out of doors – not driving them out like a flock of sheep or leading them like a company of soldiers, but walking with them as a father with his sons or a brother with his brothers and making them more familiar with whatever the season offers.

    We see many adults who have grown up amid scenes of natural beauty and yet are unconscious of their charm. Children feel themselves drawn towards the spiritual in nature, but unless this yearning is welcomed and strengthened by their elders, either it dies away or they lose their confidence in those whom they should respect. That is why children and adults should go out together, and together strive to feel in their hearts the spirit and life of nature.

    boy in a striped shirt playing in a sunny forest

    Photograph by Danny Burrows. Used by permission.

    Contributed By FriedrichFroebel Friedrich Froebel

    Friedrich Froebel, who created the concept of the kindergarten, was a reformist nineteenth-century educator who emphasized the value of teaching the “whole child” through active play, creativity, music, art, and hands-on learning.

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