It’s Human NATURE
to Spend Time Outdoors Every Day

By Meghan K. Hill

 


This is the time of year when, after a seemingly endless winter, it becomes apparent that the children in our lives may be suffering from “Nature Deficit Disorder,” a term widely used by No Child Left Inside proponents, to characterize a child’s lack of connection to nature resulting in a diminished sense of wonder – and often a host of behavioral issues.

According to the Center for Research on the Influences of Television on Children (CRTIC), children in America spend more time watching television than in any other waking activity, with additional time devoted to video and computer games and to using the Internet. And, it turns out that children in the United States watch more television than children any place else in the world.

Despite the fact many of us do our best to get our kids outside on a regular basis, the majority of parents I know readily admit that their children are leery of venturing too far away from an electrical outlet and balk at the suggestion that they might amuse themselves outdoors for an extended period of time.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to break the cycle, and it’s often easier to turn kids [back] on to nature by participating in creative activities as a family. Once children discover how great the outdoors can be, they’ll be more apt to get imaginative and come up with their own ideas for outdoor play.

April 22 is Earth Day, which is a perfect opportunity to celebrate Mother Nature!

Here are a few ideas to get you and your children on your way to becoming unplugged and reconnected to the natural world:

boy-glassGrab a magnifying glass, and go on a bug hunt.


birdfeederMake your own bird feeder.


plantsPot your own seedling.


gnome

Create a Fairy or Gnome house.


rocks

Paint rocks and start a rock garden.


fortBuild a fort.


The power of this movement lies in that sense, that special place in our hearts, those woods where the bulldozers cannot reach. Developers and environmentalists, corporate CEOs and college professors, rock stars and ranchers, may agree on little else, but they agree on this: no one among us wants to be a member of the last generation to pass on to our children the joy of playing outside in nature.
—Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods
Meghan Hill, M.Ed., is a nature writer and outdoor educator based in Osterville.

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