How to Spark Children's Curiosity in the Garden

Unstructured outdoor time sparks creativity and curiosity.

By Anne Nagro

Want to spark children's curiosity? Give them unstructured outdoor time

“You have to be exposed to nature at a certain critical period in your life and must have the opportunity to explore it,” said renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson in an interview with PCT magazine. “Moreover, you must be left alone to do it.”

He said the worst thing parents can do is take children to the country or park and point out the different kinds of trees with labels on them. Like Silent Spring Author Rachel Carson advocated, children have to be turned loose like little savages, he explained. They don’t need to know the scientific names of the plants and animals. “They’ll learn those as they interact with nature,” said Wilson.

Allow them to collect frogs and bring them home, keep a box of spiders under the bed, or build a hideaway in the woods, a natural tendency of children between the ages of 9 and 12. “When you let a child do that – let them roam for long periods of time by themselves or with a buddy – you have a very good chance of bringing a naturalist or scientist out of that experience,” said Wilson, one of the world's leading ant experts, author of more than 25 books, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, founder of the field of Sociobiology, and professor emeritus at Harvard University. His book, The Social Conquest of Earth, was released in 2013. 

Copyright Anne Nagro

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