Doctor Says | Dr. Aw Tui Iar (T I Wong)

Should exploration in nature be imagined only?

Learning and Experiences

Should exploration in nature be imagined only?

“Definitely not!” I say.

Human beings are blessed with the 5 senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch) which are used, to explore the environment and learn from the experience. Right from birth , the infant learns experientially; it cries when feeling hungry, gurgles when satisfied, falls asleep when tired...As it grows older, the baby’s innate curiosity produces “mouthing” behaviour, that is, putting objects into its mouth, including its own thumb! The sensations a child experiences are processed and the brain gives it a perception, a meaningful interpretation. We are constantly absorbing the external stimuli from our 5 senses , the resulting perceptions give meaning to our experiences and we constantly learn as we automatically gather our experiences and commit them to memory.

Nature’s diversity is such a rich resource for exploration and sensory learning. Symbolic learning, for example, from the television or books would never equal to the experience of being there in the midst of nature! Watching a documentary about a camping trip to the jungle or forest would not be the same as actually being on the trip and “ feasting the senses on all the sights and sounds”. Take your child to the park, to the playground with its swings, see-saws, slides and climbing frames. Let them play ball, use the sand pit, run around playing games ( NOT computer games!) Remember that a bit of dirt is healthy!  Encourage them to wade in the streams , look for bugs, smell the flowers, touch the leaves, chase butterflies...Do you have fond memories of picnics or camps or family holidays? These are usually in the great outdoors, right?

Take your child or better still, take the whole family, to explore Nature’s great places:  waterfalls, mountain ridges, sand beaches, lakesides, shady forests, vibrant jungles, limestone caves - we have them all in Asia!

Children ( and adults!) will always cherish memories of these experiences which impacts on their character and attitudes. It teaches them to respect and appreciate Nature. They are much healthier, developing gross and fine motor coordination, enjoying their outdoor activities and learning skills .They learn to socialise and interact, sharing and building relationships.

Learning from Nature should definitely be experiential , not just imaginary!

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