You ever sit back and remember how it was when you were a child, and how you were able to go outside to play on your own. Not worrying about the stranger next door, not caring about the car coming down the road, or even a care in the world about what might bite you.
The care freeness that came with just being a kid outside and loving nature, playing on the playground, finding insects and the great discovering of wonderment of learning about the world. That is how it was when we were younger, but now there is a great fear in the world. A sad fear of nature and the possibility of what might happen. Parents are afraid of allowing their children to go outside and explore life, and the simple beauty of nature.
Nature is the Ultimate Playground for kids, and nothing can even come close to it.
Even I have to admit that even I for a bit when my oldest son was younger worried because of his huge allergies to insect bites and what not. However I do not want my children to grow up with ever experiencing the sounds of nature, such as the birds in the early morning, the greenery of the woods, or even the joy of even finding a wounded animal that might still be alive enough to salvage and help back to life.
Every year parents spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on toys and activities for their kids. While many of things are great for keeping young minds and bodies active, many of them are just plain out unnecessary. Sure kids need structured play, but they also need “free” play and this is easy to do when the world’s largest playground is right outside your back door.
Why not let them play outside?
Every toy, book, and TV show that comes out has been designed and redesigned several times in order to make it educational and entertaining for children. The great thing about nature is that, while being entertaining and stimulating to the imagination, it’s also educational. Nature can teach children the basics of science, economics, and creativity.
It’s cheap. Depending on where you live, exploring nature is usually pretty inexpensive, if not free. It may mean going out in your backyard, local park, or perhaps going to the local nature center or state park (which usually have low cost fees or memberships). This way, you don’t have to pay for expensive toys, jungle gyms, or memberships to expensive entertainment centers, but you still get the benefit of stimulating and educational play.
I for one limit the amount of games or toys that require batteries to make work.
It makes them think. Lately there’s been a trend in education towards inquiry based learning. Researchers have found that if students explore and experiment to figure out answers on their own, they’re going to learn better, and retain more information. It also helps them develop skills to be able to learn things on their own later.
What better environment to learn things than out in nature.
That is why I love the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv it is a great testimony to the whys and how's of why we should allow our children more free time outside, showing us even scientific studies that kids who play outside more are smarter and more relaxed.
His book covers the topics of:
- The new Relationship between children and nature
- Why the young and the rest of us need nature
- The best of intentions why many don't play outside anymore
- The Nature Child Reunion
- The Jungle Backyard
- Wonderland Opening the Frontier
- To be Amazed
While it’s easy to forget, childhood isn’t just for learning about how to be an adult, it’s also about having fun. Nature gives kids a chance to use their imagination and be free to just be kids.
I recommend that you also take a look at I love Dirt! A great resource for parents who want to learn some new activities to get their kids back into nature.