12 May 2015

New Story for Young Children Supports Nature as Natural

Category: Health,Learning,Play,Self-Directed LearningAdmin @ 3:41 pm

To counteract "Nature-Deficit Disorder," a new release from Barefoot Books, Outdoor Opposites, plays with words for opposites while portraying children enjoying the natural world. Macy Koch has written a nice description of the book (for ages 3-7) here. It is good to see a book that reminds children and parents how much fun playing outside can be while teaching an early “academic” skill in a fun way.

Playing outdoors helps children develop physical and social skills while keeping their bodies, minds and hearts healthy. Watch any young child play outside and you will see a child who loves exploring the natural world, even if it consists only of insects on the back patio. We evolved as part of this world and children most of all benefit by spending time in it. These days, too many kids are overweight and/or not physically fit. There is a connection to depression here too.

What happened? Increasingly busy schedules (including homework and scripted after-school activities, largely imposed upon kids by usually well-meaning adults), parents afraid to give their kids unsupervised play time lest some horrible fate befall them, increasing urbanization, the rise of electronic technology (encouraging kids to use their fingers more than their legs), and several generations of processed food (skewing our view of a “normal diet”) are robbing children of many aspects of a healthy childood. I could say much about how what we eat (and how we prepare it) supports or hinders our connection with nature, but I will leave that topic alone for now. My point here is that free time outdoors is now a rare event in too many children’s lives.

Although I heard Richard Louv say in an interview that he coined the phrase "Nature-Deficit Disorder" in jest, his book, Last Child in the Woods, quite seriously points out how disconnected most of today’s children are from the natural world and why that matters (Algonquin Books). After his book was published, Richard Louv and others created the Children & Nature Network to help reunite children with nature. They have a lot to say worth reading.

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