We laugh when a little boy is asked to draw a chicken and then he sketches a roasted one. Or the one who, when asked where milk comes from answers „From the supermarket’. More than funny, this reality is extremely tragic. This is evidence that today many children
grow only in an urban environment
and without being exposed to plants, animals and natural landscapes – or if they are exposed to them, it is only through books and videos. There are pediatricians, educators and psychologists who already talk about the disorder due to nature deficit. It is manifested as obesity, stress, learning disorders, hyperactivity, chronic fatigue or even depression.
If we leave kids to spend more time in nature than indoors, we will see how it will positively affect their health development and success in school. Time spent in nature has the effect of
better attention, less stress, stimulated discipline,
increased body activity and fitness, and higher self-initiative in children, enjoyment of learning and engagement.
Here is what children – of all ages – learn from exposure to nature:
Contact with nature improves motor skills. For example, children between one and three years of age walk through the woods, climb a ramp, they stumble over the rocks of the road but they don’t cry because they have fallen. And this example – having to get around obstacles, falling and getting up, is very significant of how contact with nature contributes to the emotional development of children.
Security and autonomy
Children who spend more time in nature are calmer, more independent, with fewer fears and more integrated with the rest of the world. They dare to enter the forest, to sit on the ground and get dirty; they don’t complain if it rains and they get wet. They are fine if things are not adjusted to their interests and needs.
Children are active learners and researchers. Since nature offers a complete sensory experience, it is of particular value to them: you can touch, smell, see, hear and taste... so it's easier to learn there than tied to a desk.
Bonding and emotional intelligence
Vacations can be a good time for parents to provide children with natural experiences: vacations to the beach or the countryside, where the family can observe together birds, leaves or insects, make cabins or otherwise spend time together. Exploring nature often demands company (or at least welcomes it) so even if the child is grown enough to go in the forest alone, more likely than not it will do so with someone else. The time spent bonding develops emotional intelligence and teaches responsibility towards self or others (to be careful to not get hurt, or to attempt to help if the other person needs it).
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