Cognitively, or intellectually, nature provides an ever-changing environment for children to explore and discover, engaging all of their senses, in order to build on existing knowledge and experience. In nature children learn to observe the world around them and then develop the ability to sort and classify. Nature preschools enhance social and emotional development. Students develop their social and emotional skills by interacting, discovering, creating and problem solving with other children and teachers. Imagine the conflicts that can arise when a group of children are building a fort, but that’s exactly what early childhood is about – learning how to constructively resolve conflicts. Nature provides endless opportunities for children to find wonder and in turn ask questions about the world around them. This helps build their intellectual capacity, but it also helps develop their confidence and sense of place in the world.
It is more important than ever that we re-imagine learning environments that provide opportunities for interest-driven exploration, creativity, collaboration, and a deep trust in possibility so that kids build a 'can-do mindset' and see what they're made of. People all over the world are articulating that the skills to succeed now include excellent communication, creative capacity, and agency. Project-based learning is an educational approach recognized for building these skills, producing confident students prepared to dream big dreams, and contribute to a better world as happy, healthy, fulfilled people.