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CRA UP CLOSE WITH OUTDOOR NATURE EDUCATOR ERIC NELSON

March 7, 2018

Beginning when he was a child, Eric Nelson educator, naturalist and founder of the Outdoor Classroom Project, may have sensed that nature has a positive effect on a developing mind.

During his recent visit to CRA in February, he recounted his experiences exploring the bluffs above the ocean in northern California alone when he was just four years old to an audience of Community Seedlings and CRA parents. CRA’s Studio P3 parent education program and the CRA Foundation made it possible.

Nelson showed photography of a little girl walking in nature. What was she doing he asked? She was counting, he observed. Learning happens outside. He then asked attendees to recall their first memories of being in nature without an adult present. Recollections of swimming, swinging, tree climbing, jumping, hiking and other experiences quickly rushed back, followed by smiles as old connections were reestablished with a time gone by.

But if there was an overriding message conveyed by Mr. Nelson, it was that experiencing nature is essential to our children and every effort must be made to facilitate it, particularly in light of smart phones, laptop computers and other electronic devices that insulate and inhibit children from exploring the natural world.

Parents play an integral part in the process of keeping nature in a child’s life. He provided the following recommendations as food for thought:

· Recognize the value that time in nature has for your child’s well being

· Verbally show an interest in nature

· Get out into nature yourself

· Exercise control and influence over your child and limit media time

· Let children lead by relinqushing control in nature

· Contribute to children’s understanding and be responsive

We will continue to bring knowledgeable experts like Mr. Nelson to campus to share their insights and perspectives with our CRA families.

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