Ah the great outdoors. For a lot of people, the time we spend outdoors in the fall and winter drastically decreases from that in the summer.
But this is your invitation to embrace the outdoors, no matter the weather! Your, and your child’s creativity, will benefit.
For our youngest learners, the changing of seasons is especially exciting. The colours change, leaves fall, there are mud puddles to explore and new textures and smells to discover.
Did you know that being outside has the ability to increase our creativity?
Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualization and the full use of the senses. - Richard Louv
Here’s what we know:
Nature makes us more curious
And when we are curious, we are able to get new ideas and be flexible in our way of thinking. For children, many of their experiences in nature are “firsts” and throughout early childhood, even the “seconds” and “thirds” feel like firsts as their abilities, knowledge, and skills grow and change.
Nature enhances our directed-attention*
Directed-attention speaks to the focus we use when in unnatural environments (work, school, while driving) when our brains are flooded with large amounts of stimuli demanding our attention. Sorting through all of this information is mentally tiring. But, when we are in nature we exhibit spontaneous attention, where we experience things unnoticed, thus stimulating the brain without overtaxing.
Taking a break from environments of direct-attention to take time in environments of spontaneous attention helps us recharge for further analyzing and development of ideas.
> Think about a child in school - those recess breaks are for their bodies to stretch and move. But they’re also for their brains! Taking time outside helps the brain recharge so that it can come back to continue focusing with that directed-attention in the learning setting.
Nature improves our well-being …
which improves our creativity. Even short encounters with nature (a 5 minute walk, seeing trees, hearing birds) improve our well-being. When we experience positive well-being, our creative drive is more active.
So while it may be tempting to stay inside on those less than comfortable days, take a quick walk or stroll, even a breath of fresh air in your backyard with your children or students. You and your children will likely come back inside with greater focus and well-being than before, ready to create with new ideas.
* Plambech & Konijnendijk van den Bosch (2015). The impact of nature on creativity - A study among Danish creative professionals. Accessed via https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2015.02.006