I have been reading a book that was recommended from my favorite course during the MEPI Conference. It was a course on children and nature. The book is called “The Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv. I really have just started the book. But it really gets me thinking about the importance of outdoor play.
During the class on one of the days. The instructor discussed the importance of allowing children to fall. Yes, allow them to learn the skill of falling. This is a skill a child learns at a young age. We need to allow this natural process to occur without overprotecting. I know this is hard for parents who just want to prevent anything happening to their child.
We need to allow the child to be guided by nature. When children are outside during free play. There is so much sensorial growth happening. They are developing their social skills. Only guided by their natural surroundings. Solving conflicts which always occur during free play.
Reading the book reminded me of my own childhood. As a child, I spent a lot of time outdoors. Riding my bike or just exploring the neighborhood with my siblings and friends. We were always outside. The heat of Miami didn’t even bother us. We just wanted to play OUTSIDE.
Contrast to today where you could drive around neighborhoods and not see one child outside. Our children today are so hooked up on technology that they don’t like playing outside. It’s a sad truth that they are suffering from Nature-Deficit Disorder.
The journal of Psychiatric Services did a survey in 2003. They found that the rate of children being prescribed antidepressants had doubled in just 5 years. This is was a 66 percent increase in preschool children alone. This rate was for children disconnection from nature.
We need to allow our children to go outside, get dirty, fall, explore and get connected to the beauty of nature.
“Children NEED NATURE for the healthy development of their senses, and therefore, for learning creativity” (Louv 54).