Posted by Ashley Carlton on Sun, Jul 26, 2015 @ 8:48 PM
Co-Parenting with Mother Nature:
As parents and guardians, we look to nurture and grow our children. We wish them health, success, and happiness. We provide opportunities for learning, stimulation, and engagement. Little do we realize though, how much they could be cut short on by the shrinking periods of time spent connecting with nature.
In a world increasingly urban and technological, it is easy to reach for a source of entertainment that flashes awake and produces high-definition distraction while sitting in an air conditioned box of metal and cement. How do we teach our future generations to remember what’s on the other side, and to reach out and care for it in return? Why should we?
“As experts in child development and learning, psychologists are helping children reconnect with nature by conducting research, incorporating the outdoors into clinical interventions and educating parents, says Martha Erickson, a director of early childhood mental health training programs at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.”
Studies show increased cognitive abilities, reduced anxiety, and even decreased feelings of over-stimulation in ADHD diagnosed children. “A study from the Landscape and Human Health Lab in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign…found that girls in a Chicago public housing development who lived in apartments with greener, more natural views scored better on self-discipline tests…[and] that school performance improved in some children who engaged with nature on a regular basis.”
In addition, the idea of harboring a fascination and appreciation for these natural environments creates exponential opportunities for education and cultivating a sense of pride and responsibility for the continuation of nature.
“Often, parents aren’t aware of nature’s benefits to their children, or aren’t sure how to tear their children away from the computer or television screen, says Meg Houlihan, PhD, a private practitioner in Charlotte, N.C.”
The Alliance for Community Trees, or ACTrees has devoted a part of their webpage specifically for educating and offering resources for continuing children’s connection with the outdoors, stating, “ACTrees is working with our partners and member organizations to encourage and foster children’s natural curiosity about trees and the environment.”
The elimination of technology and urban environments may not be likely, or even necessary. Innovations due to technology and education will benefit the successes and discoveries made about the environment and what inhabits it, but for the health of our children, and the earth they will grow up in and raise their children in, forgetting what is outside our windows does all involved a deep disservice.
Image from Project Wild Thing.