A life "in and with nature?" Developing nature engaging and nature enhancing pedagogies for babies and toddlers


  • Joanne Josephidou The Open University (UK)
  • Nicola Kemp Canterbury Christ Church University


Froebel, Outdoor, ECEC, Nature, Babies, Toddlers


The holistic relationship between children and nature is at the heart of Froebel’s philosophy and practice: he took for granted that young children would grow up “in” and “with” nature.  This paper explores the contemporary relevance of this thinking to babies and toddlers in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings. It is based on a research project funded by the Froebel Trust which explores outdoor provision in English settings.  Our findings suggest that whilst the pedagogic potential of the outdoors for babies and toddlers appears to be generally recognized, there is little emphasis on supporting them to engage with the natural characteristics of the outdoor environment.  Concerns about safety and an emphasis on physical activity mean that natural elements may be discouraged in favor of manufactured alternatives such as artificial grass or commercially produced resources. We argue that Froebelian philosophy offers a much-needed theoretical lens that can illuminate the limitations of such practices for both the human and non-human world.  Importantly, we highlight the interconnectedness of human and environmental health and suggest the need to develop nature engaging and nature enhancing pedagogies from birth.