Kids 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 necessity of getting children into the outdoors. The author himself is chair of the Children & Nature Network, a network of regional groups dedicated to the cause. Several states have issued proclamations and plans to move kids outside during school, free time, and family time. The National Wildlife Federation is promoting a daily “Green Hour” of outdoor play. In short, it seems like everyone is jumping on this very worthy bandwagon.

I believe the reduction or elimination of recess and the increased structuring of children’s extracurricular time is a serious issue, along with childhood obesity and the widening gap between kids’ perceptions and the reality of the natural world. That is why I take great heart in these developments, the rallying to a call for more green childhoods. But I think we might lose the quintessential part in all the pomp.

If we are not careful, we will begin structuring this green time to the extent that children do not have the chance to learn from nature and experience the thrill and spiritual awakening that free exploration and natural wonders can provide. The most important point in all of the emerging research on the ill effects of nature deprivation seems to be that kids must be kids in the most kid-friendly environment there is, and that is the outdoors. No where else can a child have all the limitless variables with which to play, experiment, invent, dream, learn, and ponder. Indoor environments will always be contrived and lacking in comparison.

And so the most important thing that anyone–parents, relatives, teachers, mentors and friends–can do for a child is to get him or her outside for some genuine, unstructured, free and fun play. Who knows? The adults might realize that they needed the same thing, all along.




4 responses

22 07 2008
Mister Moone

All true…Adults could use a daily “Green Hour,” too! Technology tries very hard to replicate and imitate nature and her manifestations – but these can only ever be poor copies….we need the real thing…compare faux trees to the real thing!

22 07 2008
Green Hour

Thanks so much for linking to Green Hour!

We can tell you that our membership and web traffic is growing very fast — especially as reports keep coming out revelaing that excessive “screen-time” and sedentary life-styles lead to ADHD, childhood obesity and other health problems.

But really — getting your green hour (or part of an hour) is just FUN!

Check out for a great parenting resource — activities, guides and downloads!


Anne Keisman
National Wildlife Federation, Green Hour

3 01 2015

An inllitegent point of view, well expressed! Thanks!

11 01 2015

Todcouhwn! That’s a really cool way of putting it!

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