Tomorrow’s leaders need to be equipped for tomorrow’s challenges, and we must adequately prepare our children for the future they will inherit. That requires a commitment to providing children with environmental education that helps them become the educated thought leaders of tomorrow.
Research suggests that environmental education brings a slew of benefits to students. A few key findings include:
• Studying EE Creates Enthusiastic Students, Innovative Teacher-Leaders – EE offers opportunities for rich, hands-on, real world and relevant learning across the curriculum (Archie, 2003).
• EE Helps Build Critical Thinking, and Relationship Skills – Environment-based education emphasizes specific critical thinking skills central to “good science”—questioning, investigating, forming hypotheses, interpreting data, analyzing, developing conclusions, and solving problems (Archie, 2003).
• EE Instructional Strategies Help Foster Leadership Qualities – Environmental education emphasizes cooperative learning (i.e., working in teams or with partners), critical thinking and discussion, hands-on activities, and a focus on action strategies with real-world applications (NAAEE & NEETF, 2001).
• Self Control/Self Discipline Benefits for Children with ADD – Taylor and her colleagues found that children with attention-deficit disorder (ADD) benefited from more exposure to nature –the greener a child’s everyday environment, the more manageable are the symptoms of ADD (Taylor, 2001).
• Increased Focus/Improved Cognition – Wells observed that proximity to nature, access to views of nature, and daily exposure to natural settings increases the ability of children to focus and improves cognitive abilities. (Wells, 2000).
• Health Benefits – At the school environment level Bell and Dyment observed that children who experience school grounds or play areas with diverse natural settings are more physically active, more aware of good nutrition, more creative, and more civil to one another. (Bell, 2006).
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