December 19, 2013

Give A Child The Gift Of Nature

No child should have to suffer Nature Deficit Disorder - you can make a difference.

Is there a little person in your life that you would love to do something for? The best gift I can imagine would be to spend time with them in nature.

Kids need to "get their sillies out" as I said to my students in elementary school.

Recess provides much-needed space and time for students to blow off steam and behave like kids for a while. I know from experience that a few days of canceled recess in a cold winter can mean a potential breakdown of stressed psyches all the way around - students and teachers.

I became an amateur meteorologist during my years as a teacher due to this phenomena, because when the thermometer says minus 25 C during the day, the kids don't go out to play.

In natural settings, like during recess, children can not only get their sillies out, but they can also relax and be themselves naturally while immersed in a non-restricted environment.

Fight Nature Deficit Disorder - take a kid for a nature experience. It is the best gift ever (for the child, and for you).


  1. I agree with you. But kids nowadays seems to have lost interest in running and playing, except for very small children. What I see is they sit in the schoolyard on a bench on a row with their eyes in their smartphones hardly talking, more of screaming sometimes to each other. During the lessons they also check their phones at least once every five minutes.

    Teachers are not allowed to forbid students using their own possessions, even winter jackets and caps, indoors all day. The phones are lying on the desk waiting for messages and updates on FB and Instagram. I refer to students 10-15 years old as I work in school. Children have almost the same freedoms and rights (but not responsibilities!) as adults. Perhaps you already realized we have disturbance and concentration issues here? ;) One day we took some classes to the forest just 15 min by train from the city. What did the kids do? They sat on stones or stumps with their eyes and fingers on their phones of course!

    "Nature Deficit Disorder"? In the latest deadly or chronic stage perhaps??? Who's to blame? Adults not allowed to behave as adults and chlidren becoming curled to behave as narcissistic customers craving and demanding their lawful ratified rights.

    I sometimes say that my generation born in the '70s were the last one with relatively healthy childhoods. Our teacher in fourth to sixth grade took us out in the nature almost every week and we learned a lot about even the smallest creatures and plants. Even if some facts now are forgotten, I will never forget the great feeling just beeing there and the smell of moss and pine needles. .


    1. Eva,

      There are more distractions now than ever before. As a teacher I have taken children from kindergarten to high school age out into nature. My goal was to keep them engaged and having fun so they never had time, nor the inclination, to do anything else.

      It is a huge challenge, but a very worthwhile one that can have life-changing results. Plus, nature never ceases to amaze those who turn their focused attention that way, even for a short period of time.

      Often we watch to see what our kids will do, but forget that our kids are watching us, too. They are watching what we do, and observational learning is a powerful opportunity for us to model nature-loving behaviours.

      Number one way to get kids interested and excited about nature is to be interested and excited about it ourselves. When they see the enjoyment we get, they will want to check it out themselves.

      The second thing - get them engaged in the wonders of the natural world when they are young. It only gets more difficult as kids get to an age where electronic and social distractions abound. Even then, with patience and perseverance, it is possible, because nature is awesome!

  2. Kids don't need to be in touch with the world every second of every day. Neither do adults. Haven't people learnt to "self soothe" If people are always involved with their phones and such, how do they carry on a conversation with another. only 10 yrs ago we could talk to one another without having someone check their phone and interrupt what they were discussing. We don't need to be In touch. Why are we so afraid of being alone.

    people give their children phones, in case of an emergency. However, what exactly do the think is going to happen? it is up to parents to stop giving their children these electronic toys and interact with them. there is nothing sadder than to see a family out and the parents are on their phones. not good.

    1. e.a.f.,

      We have never owned a cell phone, nor do we want one. I guess we like to live dangerously… and uninterrupted.

  3. I believe spending time in nature is the absolute most important aspect of development for a child. My son LOVES being outside more than anything. The freedom it allows him to explore, experiment, and discover develops creativity and a strong imagination.

    It seems like so many children today not only lack social skills because they are constantly tuned into a screen, but more importantly lack imagination. How sad for our future as a whole. Who will be the great innovators, creators, and inventors of our time?


    1. MarieG,

      You have a fortunate son - you must love nature, too.

      I share your concern for future generations whose brains are increasingly tuned in to electronic devices. We have become major CONSUMERS of stuff highly paid professionals manufacture for our entertainment rather than being major CREATORS of our own material.

      We need a better balance in our exposure to technology and nature. We are animals, not machines, and we need to be with the rest of creation every once in a while if we are to develop the will to save it.


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