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Are Children Suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder?

Are Children Suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder?

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My generation grew up in a time when the children were sent outside to play. “Come in when I call you” or (horrors!) “when it gets dark”. Those were our instructions. We wandered to the fields and woods near our home. We learned to navigate the landscape, build forts, stay away from mean kids, and negotiate our desires with our neighborhood friends. We really did not understand how lucky we were. 

There was also a time in the 70s where we were trying to get “back to nature”. Grow food, make yogurt, and raise chickens. For some it was a comedy of errors for others it was a joyful time of independence and health.

Today, parents need to plan when outdoor time is going to happen. Children can’t go down 10 floors in the elevator to an outdoor space alone. Parents or caregivers must accompany them to the designated outdoor space to play and be surrounded by nature. We are fortunate to have Central Park and Riverside Park so close to Twin Parks Montessori Schools.

The benefits of spending time in nature are both physical and mental for children and adults. It puts us all in a better frame of mind. It reduces stress, depression and mental fatigue. Gross motor skills are greatly increased as well as flexibility of movement. Unstructured time in nature is best. Children learn how to take appropriate risks in life by spending unstructured time in nature.

Spending time outdoors is a great way to limit screen time. It is so much healthier to be outdoors looking at beauty and listening to nature, rather than remaining inside in front of the television or a computer screen. Plus the time spent with you on a walk while you are pointing out flora and fauna will increase vocabulary for young children.

Additional benefits include allowing children to have freedom which is vanishing in so many other situations. It improves confidence in children who suffer from low self-esteem allowing them to have peace and self-control.

Perhaps the best benefit is that your children will have a relationship with nature. One that will last a life time. Nature will be important and worth preserving for the future generations. It warms my heart and mind to see children defending wildlife, rainforests, and coral reefs. Children learn about ecosystems and what pollution does to the environment. They will help save the planet for future generations!

“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.” Richard Louv



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