I recently visited the Botanical Garden near Chicago with my children and also participated in a Nature Workshop, which has left me amazed at the calming and restorative power of being in nature. It is something I know as a parent of two active young boys is of utmost importance as a part of our every day life. And it is something that I think I just know, in my bones, from my childhood. Nature is really powerful for uncluttering the mind. Maybe it is the air, or the activating of the senses, or the feeling of sharing the experience of nature (even if you are alone) with humankind.
It also recently dawned on me that these nature experiences appeal to my senses in an aesthetic way and I feel a sense of inner calm with its beauty. The grounds at the Chicago Botanic Gardens are almost overwhelmingly beautiful and the amount of care put into making them so healthy and vibrant and beautiful is also overwhelming. The workshop was a science and nature workshop, but was equally an aesthetic experience, and placed in the more organic and natural forest setting of the North Park Village Nature Center. It was a day of serenity and beauty that was restorative to my spirit and energy.
This is as true for young children as it is for adults. I love taking children outside and into nature areas. They immediately seem to slow down. They begin to look intently for insects and they make new discoveries. When I can finally convince them to leave they are calmer and more focused at the same time. For some, art can bring about the same experience of calm and focus. By combining the two we can tap into the inner calm of children and provide an escape from the sometimes overbearing, overwhelming, and demanding world around them.
We encourage everyone to get out and experience more nature with children and bring drawing materials. You will be amazed at the change in behavior, mood and focus that comes from experiencing art and nature together.