Nature Strengthens Our Sense of Belonging

ptbo-toddler-1bOur Peterborough Toddler 2 program spent the last week exploring snails as a way to further connect with nature. We discovered many of these wonderful creatures while out on a recent nature walk.

ptbo-toddler-2aEach child and adult has their own comfort level when dealing with insects, bugs and other “creepy crawlies”, and that was respected throughout this experience. By exploring together, I was hoping we could overcome any existing fears while also teaching respect for living organisms. We were all aware of the delicacy of snails and handled them with care.

In the beginning, the children kept their distance. Expressions of curiosity and wonder appeared on faces as they leaned forward to take a closer look at each snail.

Soon after, the children became completely engaged. You can see how focused Max was as he watched the snail move slowly across the palm of his hand. We also see Max demonstrate his bravery and comfort. Respect towards the snail was evident by the way Max held his hand open so as not to crush the snail. The seriousness and wonder on his face made me think he likely had many questions running through his mind.

At her first touch of a snail, Anna pulled her hand back quickly and let out little screams of excitement. Oscar soon joined in and excitedly exclaimed, “I touched it!”

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Anna’s comfort level grew considerably over the week. I was so proud of her. You can see the curiosity and look of wonder on her face as she makes eye contact with the snail and thoroughly examines it.

The excitement and sense of pride on the children’s faces after overcoming their fear of handling snails was priceless. I felt the same excitement right along with them. I also felt a real sense of accomplishment at the end of this exploration. I could see the growth in the children’s comfort levels towards the snails.

The foundations of How Does Learning Happen? (Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years 2014) are truly evident in this experience. There was a real sense of Belonging and Well-Being as we overcame any fears and discomforts together. How Does Learning Happen? describes Belonging as, “when children are strongly connected to their caregivers, they feel safe and have the confidence to play, explore, and learn about the world around them.” This statement is likely why this experience was so rewarding for me as an educator.

Tammy Perritt RECE, Compass ELC Peterborough Program

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