In a world dominated by screens and indoor life, Naya Nature was founded with the purpose of providing outdoor, nature-based education, to connect children with nature and their inner nature, all year long, through all seasons and weathers.
Splashing in mud puddles, searching for acorns, tiptoeing under the murmuring trees. For children, nature is an animate, multisensory experience lending itself to strong imagination and creativity. It is also the perfect setting to nurture the parent-toddler connection. In an urban world where it can be easy to stay inside, Naya Nature’s Mini Buffalo Parent and Toddler Coaching Group takes city kids outdoors and off-screen to connect with nature while planting the seeds of future preservation.
Re-connecting Children to Nature
Judith Duijn, a Connection Coach at Naya Nature, grew up in the Dutch woods but now lives in Amsterdam. The leader of Mini Buffalo Parent and Toddler Coaching, she considers it normal to go outside. “Linking toddlers to nature, parents to toddlers, and parents to each other through nature is a way to build connected communities. It also has environmental implications, because if today’s children are connected to nature, they might become the adults of tomorrow who protect nature”, she explains.
Linking toddlers to nature, parents to children, and parents to each other through nature is a way to build connected communities.
In her role as a Connection Coach, Judith finds connection to the natural world important because nature-deficit, endemic to the modern, screen bound, indoor lifestyle leads to attention problems and clumsiness in children due to a lack of core strength. “Kids need 45 minutes to an hour outside every day. If you bring them outside, you solve many problems,” says Judith. The normalcy of outside time and connection form the ethos behind her unique, outdoors-in-any-weather Parent and Toddler Connection Group, which aims to strengthen the connection of toddlers to nature, parents to toddlers, and parents to each other.
A Special Coaching Group
The Mini Buffalo nature-centered coaching group is designed to be enjoyed by parents and children together and includes several special features. In addition to being outdoors, Judith incorporates coaching to handle issues that come up while parenting, and sign language to establish deep and meaningful communication between parents and children. “Sign language has huge benefits. It uses movement to express what is essential in a sentence, encourages eye contact, gets the child’s attention, and conveys the point. From 6 to 7 months of age, children can understand signs and will start to sign back. This makes them feel seen and heard, and they become calm and experience less frustration,” explains Judith.
The Mini Buffalo nature-centered coaching group is designed to be enjoyed by parents and children together to establish deep and meaningful communication.
The Mini Buffalo coaching group meets in Beatrixpark and follows a regular routine. “First I welcome parents and toddlers and sing the welcome song. It’s always the same song, and the children can sign or sing along. Then I take the emotional temperature of the group using signs and speech. If it is nice enough we sit on the grass, and I ask the children to close their eyes and tell what they feel, smell, and hear to concentrate their senses,” says Judith. The goal is to bring children into the moment in nature’s heightened presence.
Then it's time for an exploration in the wild!
Judith leads the group with the help of Jack, a wolf-puppet, who interacts with the kids as a friend who does challenging theme-based activities. After a snack, parents interact with each other and with Judith about a monthly coaching theme. It is also an important opportunity for new residents of Amsterdam to build their local network while their children explore. The noise parade is a particular favorite as each child makes a noise from nature banging sticks or rocks together. Leaf throwing is a favorite fall activity, and splashing in spring mud puddles all lead to a rediscovery of the outdoors in an unknown city.
The Mini Buffalo Parent and Toddler Coaching Group includes up to 8 children age 1.5 to 4 years with parents every Friday, 10:30-11:15 at the Beatrixpark. A new group is starting on March 20. Further information can be found at Naya Nature or via FaceBook.
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