Growing Nature-Loving Kids

13 04 2008

In Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (2005), Richard Louv suggests that children’s shrinking outdoor playtimes are harming their physical and emotional health. He cautions that this lack of memorable childhood experiences in nature may cost us our future environmental advocates. Whether you are a family that regularly spends time outdoors, or you barely set foot beyond your screened-in porch during the dog days of summer, try for a more fulfilling outdoor experience this year. Here are five tips on enhancing everyone’s wonder and fun in the world outside:

1. Put down the video game/TV/AC controller. A little-old-fashioned guilt-trip is especially needed in our technologically-saturated times. Tell your kids, “Don’t waste the summer away inside—winter will be here before you know it!” Then, whether that works or not, go outside with them. The best way to nurture nature-loving kids is by being one yourself. You might even get more work done on the garden—or on your best summer read—than you thought possible this year.

2. Scour the internet or library books for easy nature activities, and try one out next time the “I’m bored!” chorus resounds. A few “wow” moments may be all it takes before they warm up to the great outdoors.

3. Pitch the idea of a science-themed summer camp. Everyone wins with this one: they find non-tech ways to enjoy their youth, make new friends, and have a summer to remember. You have more time for, well, you.

4. Visit state and national parks for your summer trips, and be sure to stop by the visitor and nature centers, which offer free exhibits, informational materials, and (often) interactive nature programs and experiences led by park staff. Check out what’s on offer when planning your trip by visiting the park’s web site.

5. Catch the fever and share it with your kids. Get them involved in gardening with small tasks that allow opportunities for watching wildlife and learning about how plants grow. Visit nearby public gardens, arboretums, natural history or children’s museums and environmental learning centers. Go hiking on summer afternoons. The bottom line: your children really want to emulate you, so if you’re not having fun, chances are they won’t, either. Show your children that loving nature has its own exciting rewards, and then watch the awe unfold.

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3 responses

13 04 2008
Anna

Great blog idea, Colleen! You should see if you can get linked to Messiah’s environmental science page.

14 04 2008
Colleen

Thanks, Anna. I think I’ll look into that.

21 07 2008
Kids and Nature: What Really Counts « The Greening Tree

[…] and Nature: What Really Counts 21 07 2008 Since I wrote about Growing Nature-Loving Kids, I have become aware of an entire movement spurred by Richard Louv’s powerful treatise on the […]

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