Research suggests that spending time in nature can make us less stressed, more focussed, happier and healthier. There is a lot to be gained when we encourage kids to unplug from screens and get outdoors more.
In a country where the average child spends close to 8 hours per day in front of a glowing screen, one of the simplest and healthiest things we can do for our children is to take them outside,” says Jacob Rodenburg, author and executive director of Camp Kawartha, an award-winning outdoor education centre and summer camp. “Simply seeing the colour green in nature makes our children feel more energized, more focused and happier. Let’s help our children connect with nature so that they’ll come to recognize that the living beings there are part of their own community, their “neighbourwood.” By connecting our children again and again to nature – they’ll come to cherish the natural world, not as just simply as a place to go, but as a place that they feel they belong to. And in belonging, they come to feel more complete.”
Growing research supports the idea that kids need nature. What is important is not so much what children know about nature, but what they feel and experience when they are in nature. The best way to get kids outdoors is to lead by example. Parents need to unplug from screens, especially now during the pandemic, and embrace the outdoors. Time in nature is good for everyone.
“When a child is out in nature, all the senses get activated. He is immersed in something bigger than himself, rather than focusing narrowly on one thing, such as a computer screen. He’s seeing, hearing, touching, even tasting. Out in nature, a child’s brain has the chance to rejuvenate, so the next time he has to focus and pay attention, perhaps in school, he’ll do better.” — Richard Louv, author and journalist.
Children need nature and nature needs children.
These days many children have less time and fewer opportunities to connect with nature. This is a real loss because research shows that contact with nature makes kids feel better about themselves.
ChariTree supports children’s accessible nature-based school and summer camp environmental education programs. It’s about getting kids outside more. Let’s give young people opportunities to learn, grow with nature, and contribute positively to their ever-changing world as environmental leaders.
“If children are going to make a lifelong commitment to protect the environment for themselves and future generations, they first need time to explore the wonders of nature. — Andrea Koehle Jones, children’s environmental education advocate.