Creating environments for healthy human development and a healthy biosphere for generations to come.
Increasing numbers of children are losing contact with the natural world. To address this, The Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) aims to help communities create stimulating places for play, learning, and environmental education. The NLI is based at NC State University, North Carolina, USA, but make many of their resources freely available to anyone around the world.
Here are some great resources to start with:
- NLI InfoSheets. There are nine NLI InfoSheets in English, and most are also available in Spanish. I particularly liked the Top Ten Activity Settings InfoSheet, which is in full colour and five pages long.
- NLI have an excellent weblinks page including many Nature, Outdoor Play and Environmental websites.
One small improvement it would be good to see at NLI is clarity about copyright and licensing – for example, the Nature Play At Home book states that it can be shared or reproduced with attribution to NLI and NWF, a position that would be expressed more clearly in a Creative Commons CC-BY licence.
Visit The Natural Learning Initiative at: http://naturalearning.org/
You can also follow NLI on Twitter at twitter.com/naturalearningi and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/naturalearning
This free 8 hour course covers some of the main ideas that are central to child psychology, with a particular focus on early development.
Childhood is a time of rapid growth and development and studying these changes is endlessly stimulating. In this 2014 study unit from The Open University, you will be introduced to the discipline of child psychology and some of the key questions that guide the understanding of childhood. These questions include ‘What influences children’s development?’ and ‘How do psychologists study the physical and cognitive changes that occur during childhood?’ As you work through this material, you will also gain a deeper understanding concerning how psychologists work with young children across a range of applied settings through activities and audio-visual materials.
Access the course at: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/health-sports-psychology/childhood-youth/introduction-child-psychology/content-section-0
The course is freely available to study at any time. There is no need to register if you just want to read the content without participating in activities, but registering enables you to track your progress and download an activity record.
OpenLearn courses are licensed for you to use under the Creative Commons licence ‘Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike’ so you may use the materials as they are or in modified form. You may translate, modify, print, network, reformat or change the materials in any way providing that you meet the terms of the licence.
If you are interested in Child Psychology, you might also visit the free online Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development that I reviewed in 2014.
This pair of full-colour resource books for Early Years practitioners are feely available online from Northern Ireland Curriculum.
1. Learning Outdoors in the Early Years
This 158-pages book was first published in 2005, before Forest Schools really took off. It is a useful resource for learning outdoors immediately outside your setting, rather than in a remote woodland. It is a 3MB download.
2. Learning Through Play in the Early Years
This 163-pages resource book was compiled by the Early Years Interboard panel in response to requests for guidelines on provision and progression in play. It is a 5.2MB download.
Both books are very attractive, with lots of charts and bullet-point lists. They are not textbooks; instead, with their full-colour photographs, they really stimulate your thinking – I became increasingly impatient to try out some of their ideas! I can imagine pages from these books working really well as slides projected onto a wall or screen during staff or volunteer training sessions – just select the pages that correspond with the topics you are covering.
For anyone interested in the academic provenance the above two books, Northern Ireland Curriculum also hosts a collection of research on the Early Years Enriched Curriculum by Queen’s University Belfast, including a very useful literature review of play-based pedagogy.