How much contact does your child have with the natural world? How often does he or she get to engage in nature? And why does it matter?
Studies have shown that nature is good for children’s minds. Spending time in natural environments activates more senses. Caring for and touching soil, leaves and branches – these are just some interactions with nature that create a unique sense of wonder. Young minds begin to enquire about the world in which they are a part of.
MindChamps PreSchool is more than a childcare centre in Yishun. It is a place where children have ample opportunity to engage with nature. From eco-garden activities, excursions and hands-on lessons, the following are just a few ways that children learn about the natural environment!
Eco-Garden where kids can care for plants
Growing up in the city, most Singaporean kids encounter vegetables in the supermarket aisles. At MindChamps @ Yishun, Champs get hands-on sensory learning experience by growing vegetables and plants themselves.
Simply hearing and seeing pictures about how plants grow from seeds is only one part of the learning experience. Children’s curiosity is fulfilled when they are involved in the whole gardening process. Their active role in nurturing plants allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment and responsibility.
“By having an eco-garden in our centre, Champs get to care for plants. They water the plants daily and ensure there is enough sunlight for growth. The eco-garden also allows Champs to have sensorial play as they get to touch and feel the plants,” said Ms Suliana, principal at MindChamps @ Yishun.
An exciting hydroponic farm excursion
During one of several excursions, the children visited a hydroponic farm and were fascinated by the method of cultivating plants in liquid nutrients-rich solutions. They realised that there are more ways to grow things than the “traditional way” of tucking seeds into the soil. In fact, these hydroponic plants may be a healthier option and are pesticide-free.
For preschoolers from MindChamps @ Yishun, it was eye-opening to observe this alternative, progressive way of growing vegetables, which could be adopted in homes without gardens.
The hydroponic farm excursion is just one of the ways that this childcare centre in Yishun takes learning beyond the classroom. There is so much that children can learn about nature and the environment when they step outside.
Kids learn to respect nature at this childcare centre in Yishun
As children learn about caring for plants, their sense of responsibility grows. They learn the importance of respecting nature and being mindful of the environment.
By growing plants from seeds using recycled water bottles, children immerse in hands-on sensory learning experiences. Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore. They enjoy touching and observing the plants (the supple leaves, the different textures, the stems, the various colours, etc.) as they learn to care for them.
The children also understand what to do, and what not to do, in order to allow plants to flourish. For instance, they know that for the “leaves, stems and branches to grow, they should not pluck from the plant. Some parts of the plant plucked may no longer grow and it may eventually affect the plant’s growth,” Ms Suliana said.
In the modern world that we live in, eco-friendly practices and efforts to conserve the local environment are becoming increasingly pertinent. There is no time like childhood to learn about the wonders of nature! Not to mention – after their learning journey about nature, they may have a newfound interest in everyday produce like carrots and potatoes.
Fun games and activities to learn about nature
Interactive games and lessons are incorporated in the lessons to diversify children’s learning journey about plants and nature.
Through games and projects, “Champs get to enhance their knowledge and social interactions as they play along with peers. Champs will also get to problem-solve,” said Ms Suliana.
From nature-themed arts and crafts projects and culinary activities to using produce as props, the children have a blast incorporating creativity and self-expression at this childcare centre in Yishun.
Written by Jenny Tai
Want to find out what our Champs and teachers get up to during the day at MindChamps @ Yishun?