Why Kids Need Nature
Timeless wandering was synonymous with childhood, places on the land had names like Fin Rock, Bobcat Hollow, Runaway cave...
Never before in history have children been so plugged in- and so out of touch with the natural world. The lack of nature in the lives of children has been linked to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as rises in obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and depression. Studies are showing that nature helps the developing mind, while too much computer use hinders.
Many things like computers and television are keeping kids from nature, but so are our fears of traffic, crime, and the hazards associated with nature ( a core component of all of our programs covers the various hazards of nature- so campers are aware, able to recognize and respond intelligently). Schools continue to give more and more homework, and less and less recess (especially in the out-of-doors). After school, a child's life is increasingly planned/supervised with after school activities to the point where they are hustled from one to the next. Access to natural areas is decreasing, and what a child can do in them is increasingly restrained. A poll of leaders in the environmental field showed that all of them had some significant experiences in nature, memories of building forts, wandering through swamps, climbing trees. Sadly, organized natural areas don't allow this, and neighborhoods are making it more and more difficult for kids to be kids.
There is hope, and we believe the Living Earth School helps by giving direct hands on experiences in nature. Healthy childhood development- physical, emotional, and spiritual- is shown to be enhanced when children have direct exposure to nature. Studies are showing that nature is a remedy for depression, ADD, obesity and more. Environmental based education is proven to dramatically increase standardized test scores, grade point averages, and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, decision making, and even creativity.
This was adapted from Richards Louv's book Last Child In The Woods Saving children from Nature Deficit Disorder
The things we teach at The Living Earth School are known as primary learning- things that can only be learned from direct experience. We stimulate the senses, discover passion, and wonder and wander our way through the natural world. Survival skills bring about a deep inner stillness and build a confidence in children that they can care for themselves, face difficult challenges, and learn to solve seemingly impossible problems. We know these can help kids come alive, find their gifts/talents, become more thankful/grateful, create positive attitudes, and open them to the magical mysteries of life.
Parents can take an active role in making sure their kids will not be "The Last Child in The Woods" or that they don't suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder. Number one is a strong open parent child relationship. And then kids need to be kids, they need to be free to explore, build forts, daydream, become bored and creatively and imaginatively find something to do.
We welcome you and your family to The Living Earth experience
There is a national movement spearheaded by the Children and Nature Network to increase awareness of the research findings about the benefits of nature to children and a new campaign called "No Child left inside" to help reconnect children to nature. They have assisted the collection of research papers below.
Research by Andrea Faber Taylor; Frances Kuo, & William Sullivan (2001) is one of the earliest studies to show that contact with nature has a positive effect in reducing the impact of ADD in children. It shows that sometime in nature or green settings helps with their focus abilities when back in school.
Nancy Wells of Cornell (2003) Her study showed that even a view of nature in school can drastically reduce stress in kids. Another study showed that views of nature and daily exposure to a natural setting increases a child's ability to focus and increases their cognitive skills.
Dr. Louise Chawla's research has shown that children who have direct experiences with the out-of-doors and being taken outdoors by someone close to them -parents, grandparents, or trusted guardians (like LES) are the 2 most significant factors that will influence children to take action for the benefit of the environment. It also points out the early benefit to out-of-doors experiences- creativity, physical competence, social skills, environmental knowledge, confidence, and problem solving ability.
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In Nov. 2008, a groundbreaking book called Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown was published. Jon Young has long been a mentor of ours, sharing the principles/techniques of Coyote Mentoring.
Living Earth has been applying Coyote Mentoring in our programs, and we have seen its benefits. We believe it is a major reason why our programs are effective and unique. We have seen how it awakens students curiosity and passion for learning and living. Author Richard Louv (Last Child in The Woods: Saving our children from Nature Deficit Disorder) has said this book is “good medicine for Nature deficit disorder”. It puts together so much of what and how we teach. It is a book we wish we had when we started over a decade ago. We highly suggest this book to anyone who wishes to guide someone they care about to discover the magic of the natural world. Many parents have said to us, I wish I knew more about nature to be able to help their kids. A commitment to your childs growth, and the ability to ask questions can go a long way to helping your kids follow their passions and express their natural gifts.
“The nature activities in Coyote’s Guide are fantastic; I cannot wait to try them. This book has the power to change lives. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to share nature with others.”
Coyote’s Guide is like an ice-cubed drink of fresh-squeezed lemonade after a sun-blasted hike through the desert…This is nature education as it should be- mysterious, timeless, hopeful, evocative, and playful.