Sometimes, I feel like Summer and Cal might be standing alone as the last children in the woods. As the future stewards of our earth, I feel privileged to afford them hours a day outside and in nature. Today, kids are well aware of the global threats to the environment, but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature on a day – to -day basis, is fading. A fifth – grader in a San Diego classroom put it succinctly: “I like to play indoors better ‘cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”
Are we creating a nature deficit in our children? Are we aware of the consequences of doing so?
Forgot No Child Left Behind – We Need No Child Left Inside
I’m in the middle of trying to select a preschool for my daughter to attend in the Fall. Each time I find one that I think is better than the last, I leave disappointed with their outdoor space and the amount of time the children will spend outside. These program, which feel more like daycare disguised as “preschool” start as early as 7am and end at 4 pm only offer around 30 minutes of outdoor time each day. The outdoor spaces were oversized sandboxes with play structures and a concrete jungle of a patio. No trees, no dirt, synthetic grass if any at all, nothing natural.
The Last Child in the Woods
The book, The Last Child in the Woods is an influential piece about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors. Author and child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends.
Lack of Nature Exploration for Children is linked to:
- Rise in obesity
- Attention Disorders
As of 2008 for the first time in human history, more people now live in cities than in the countryside. The barrier to nature is not the city, but the absence of nature in the city from park design and lack of urban parkland. Yes we take our kids to the park but are we really exploring the park of just sitting ourselves on a bench while we watch them play on the structures? How many of us can say we actually take our kids regularly for hikes and let them explore in the dirt, sand and water?
How to Get Your Kids More Vitamin N
Getting our kids outside is easier than you think. But if you’re drawing a blank on ways to entice them, try a few of these ideas of check out Richard Louv’s book for over 300 more ideas.
- Make a bird bath or bird feeder
- Use outside time as an antidote to stress or temper tantrums
- Find a scrap board and place it on bare dirt. Come back in two days and see how many creatures have found shelter there. Wait a month and try again.
- Make a leaf collection
- Camp in the backyard with the kids
- Be a cloud spotter
- Take a hike
- Create nature games to keep kids interested during hikes
- Plant a garden
- Make them help you garden
- Give your kids outdoor chores
- Play I spy on a trail walk
Get your kids outside and in nature! Not just today but every day! Although all of us might not have the time or inclination to personally challenge government and corporations to take these issues more seriously, starting at home with our families is the first step to reversing the cycle.
Richard Louv speaks most eloquently on the issue when he states “And we can challenge environmental organizations t o take this issue seriously. For if the disconnection between children and nature continues, who will become the future stewards of the earth – and who will swing on birches?
To Learn More:
Read the Book (eBook available): The Last Child in the Woods
Read the Synopsis of the Book (busy parents this if for you): 2 Page Synopsis
Check out the Website: Book Blog Here