We are familiar with the intellectual milestones of typical seven-year olds:
- They develop an enhanced appreciation of language: understanding and making complex sentences, understanding and telling jokes, and an expanded vocabulary
- They understand numbers, basic numerical tables, basic arithmetic operations, and can tell time in a clock
- They take charge of core learning processes in the classroom: reading, comprehension, reciting poems, writing – including creative writing.
- They can appreciate multiple languages, not just their native tongue. They are learning to employ correct grammar and speech.
- They follow basic discipline at school and work, including homework.
Behind this intellectual progress is the developing powerhouse of a child’s brain. The brain is now thriving on curiosity and complexity. It is gradually getting introduced to the vast store of symbolic knowledge collected by humans over millennia.
On the physical front and in sports, they love speed – they run faster, climb faster and higher, score more for their teams, and outlast their competitors with their newfound stamina. They want to bike faster, pack things faster, play faster, and finish homework faster.
The set of potential activities for a seven-year old has exploded, and they try to pack as much as they can in a day.
Implications for nature education
The growth forces in a seven-year old – physical independence from parents, confidence, desire to go faster and higher, ability to handle the beginnings of complex symbolic knowledge, and curiosity – can be leveraged to plan for their nature education as well.
- Point out the complex dynamics and forces in nature to them – wind, storms, oceans, rivers, waterfalls, rain, snow, and so on.
- Let them observe speed in nature – running and flying insects, snakes, mammals, and birds. Show them how elegantly things in nature move, how the bodies of various living beings are adapted to their motion.
- Show them what a complex web nature is. Present activities that allow them to observe, collect, classify, identify and remember living things – all kinds of plants and animals. They may not become masters of such identification at such a young age, and may even get bored, but they will surely appreciate that there is a vast storehouse of knowledge about nature that mankind has patiently accumulated and that is waiting to be learned.
- Let them experience the details of a nature-centric vocation and it’s finer processes – fishing, collecting leaves or fruit, herding goat/sheep or cows, or dependence of farming on nature
- Above all, be prepared for their unending curious questions. Help them with as many resources as you can.