by Monika Meulman
Kids love nature. That’s a given. But how many children have access to nature everyday, or at least a few times a week?
City children spend much of their time pounding pavement on the way to school, at recess and even play on concrete playgrounds on the weekend. Many don’t even get outside. Does it matter where your kids play?
According to studies, children think, process, learn, and play better when they are in the green outdoors. Known as Biophilia, there is a belief that we have a genetic need to be surrounded by and interact with nature.
Kids prefer to look at nature scenes and love being outdoors in green spaces; it helps them think and concentrate better, according to research. Studies have shown that children given math and cognitive tests performed better when they spent time playing in a natural playground versus children who spent time playing in a concrete playground.
Being in the great outdoors lessens stress, improves creativity, physical and mental well-being. Kids need nature – studies have shown that daily exposure to natural settings improves focus.
With the increase of ADD and ADHD, we need to send kids out to play every chance we get. Children who get to play outside in nature all year round tend to have better co-operation skills, are more motivated, enthusiastic and physically healthy.
So why are we not letting our children thrive?
Our plugged-in habits are unfortunately teaching kids to do the same more than ever: play video games watch TV, surf the internet, etc. Some parents will spring on the ‘safety’ reason; the world is a more dangerous place now. There are more cars. There are more dangers.
But there are other dangers such as children spending 53 hours a week using electronic media. Nearly half of pre-schoolers are not playing outside.
When we were growing up, these tools were not around. Now more than ever, it is up to us to control, monitor and sometimes eliminate these tools completely, to allow for outdoor play.
Kids want to play. Mother nature is very forgiving too. Kids are free to look at bugs, pull dandelions, and climb trees over and over again. They want to be outside.
Make it easy for them to make this decision. Your children will be smarter, calmer, happier, and as a bonus, care more about this planet.
In the words of Randy White: “We need to allow children to develop their biophilia, their love for the Earth, before we ask them to save it.”
1. Children at eight years old can identify 25 percent more Pokemon characters than wildlife species (Balmfold, Clegg, Coulson and Taylor, 2002)
2. One in ten children have never ridden a bike (UK study)
3. 70 percent of the mothers reported playing outdoors every day when they were young, compared with only 31 percent of their children (Clemens 2004)
4. A quarter of children today have never had the simple pleasure of rolling down a hill! (UK study)
How often do your kids get outdoors to play?
Monika Meulman is a certified aromatherapist and healer and has worked in complementary health for over 15 years. At Healing Muse, she does aromatherapy massage, foot treatments, body readings, intuitive healing treatments and reiki sessions. Monika is also the president of The Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists (cfacanada.com) and Founder of the Lakeshore Environmental Gardening Society. Follow her on Twitter.