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Growing up wild

A 'Growing Up Wild' workshop will be held 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec.16, at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater. (Image courtesy Tennessee Aquarium)

A growing body of scientific research shows that spending time in nature has many benefits and is an important part of a child’s overall well-being. On Saturday, Dec. 16, the Tennessee Aquarium is hosting a “Growing Up WILD” workshop to help educators and caregivers of children ages 3-7 connect more kids to nature.

To help them forge these connections, the workshop will provide adults with tools aligned with benchmarks established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children as well as the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.

Attendees will receive copies of Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children. Written by educators and wildlife professionals and reviewed by early childhood education experts, this guidebook shows adults how to engage kids and encourage exploration of the natural world. The book’s collection of activities combine art, music and play and help lay an early foundation for developing active, healthy children who enjoy nature and are prepared to enter school with ample cognitive and social skills.

According to research conducted while creating the Growing Up WILD early childhood guide, children who have opportunities to play and learn in nature are more likely to:

  • Handle challenges and problems more capably
  • Be more physically active, healthy, aware of nutrition, and less likely to be obese
  • Have better mental and emotional health
  • Have a greater appreciation of the arts, music, history, and literature
  • Become better informed and environmentally aware adults

Growing Up WILD goes beyond building connections to the natural world and prepares young learners for future academic success by emphasizing scientific inquiry. The activity guide also includes literacy components to provide word-rich experiences for young children that will aid in reading readiness.

“The Aquarium hopes to ignite the curiosity of young students and inspire them to understand, appreciate, and ultimately help to protect and preserve the natural world,” says Aquarium Educator Lauren Lytle, one of the workshop’s facilitators. “Anyone attending will be better equipped to help young learners develop positive impressions about nature while also building lifelong social and cognitive skills.”

The Growing Up Wild workshop will be held 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec.16, at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater. The $30 fee includes the guide and refreshments. (Participants will have the option to tour the Aquarium after the workshop.)

Register online here. Space is limited to the first 30 participants. For more information, email Lauren Lytle at lel2@tnaqua.org.

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