Viewing Nature and Climate Change through the Eyes of the Infant

Primary P-5 Domain

Health and Development Risk and Protective Factors


Designed for IECMH and ECE Professionals

December 5-6, 2023

“Going outside to play” is a time-honored part of a healthy childhood. Recent research across a number of fields has now established the reality of this traditional belief. Study after study finds that young children who have regular experiences with nature exhibit improved executive functioning, resilience, physical health, academic achievement, mental health and well-being, and an interest in learning. The growing impetus to understand how to cultivate resiliency and advance equity in building relationships with nature was further heightened by the pandemic and recent local, national, and global policy advancements aimed at “Getting Outside”.  Furthermore, it is increasingly evident Climate Change disproportionately affects young children, their caregivers, and BIPOC communities. 

Since nature-based experiences are clearly vital to the healthy development of young children’s brains and bodies, it’s important to find ways to ensure all young children and their caregivers are supported to build connections with nature. Join our journey to explore the intersections between infants and toddlers, their communities of caregivers, and climate change. This track will bring together global and local perspectives on nature and environmental impacts on young children and families. Together we will address why Mother Nature matters to babies and what we can do about it to heal trauma and support healthy development. Discover tools for engaging with the early childhood community in nature, and strategies for addressing climate change and global sustainability efforts in your daily work. Let’s come together to cultivate a healthier future for all. 

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss ways to mindfully reconcile relationships with nature and respond to climate change through an indigenous lens
  • Discuss the science and an emerging global framework around the bidirectional relationships between climate change, early development and the early childhood workforce and the benefits of connections to nature
  • Articulate emerging strategies, system change and advocacy opportunities to foster alignment of early childhood efforts with climate change research, practice, and policy in local, national, international, and global communities
  • Identify three activities, practices, strategies or partnerships they can implement in their daily work environment to cultivate relational reconciliation with, and inclusive and equitable connections to nature for pregnant families, very young children, caregivers, and communities