Are You Raising Kids Who Love Nature?
For decades, there have been studies on the positive effects of nature on children. Spending time outdoors playing freely, digging dirt piles, making mud pies, picking grass, and making the most of the world’s largest playground is quickly becoming a long forgotten past time.
Parents have gone from sending kids outdoors to play to giving toddlers and elementary school children iPods and other devices to entertain them. It is nothing for a child today to complain that it is either too hot or too cold to go outside in the yard and play. Or, to wail cries of boredom when being outdoors.
Ask yourself, could you give your children a ball, a shovel, and a pail – send them out into the outdoors – without them complaining? Would your children easily tire of the sunlight, or run out of things to do? Have your children played barefoot in the rain – standing looking towards the sky with their mouths open to catch rain drops?
I am very blessed to live on a farm with lots of acreage.
One of the biggest bummers about winter is that spending time exploring outdoors requires so much clothing. We have tons of animals for the kids to watch, a garden that grows in the spring – and enough dirt to last us a lifetime. The kids – even the older ones – are constantly finding interesting rocks, making up games to play in the yard, exploring the barns, taking walks on the property, fishing in the red clay dirt filled pond, and otherwise allowing the glory of the outdoors to fertilize their souls. Again, I am lucky to live where I live. And my kids seem happiest outside. In fact, they get grumpy when the weather is bad and they are stranded in the house.
One of the most amazing gifts that my children have been given by living on a farm is to see the cycle of life.
Just yesterday, they spotted a heifer with a brand new calf. The calf was still wet from birth and the mother was licking and nudging the baby, encouraging it to walk underneath the early evening glow of moonlight. All 4 of my kids took off running to the furthest fence to watch this new calf take its first steps, to see if it could stand long enough to nourish itself with the first gulp of her mother’s milk. This morning, their first thoughts before school were to see if they could catch a glimpse of the new baby calf. They will watch this calf grow for years.
They have also witnessed the death of animals – from squirrels to dogs to cows and to kittens. They have learned how to make tomatoes grow, have seen fungus destroy large trees, picked apples and lemons fresh from the branches of trees, and spent long summer days watching clouds go by on a bed of fresh cut grass. They have rescued stray birds and walked into the wonder that is massive spider webs more times than they can count.
All of these experiences in the outdoors have made them appreciate life more. Not just their own lives, but life in general. The entire cycle – from beginning to end.
I beg of parents – whether you live on a farm or in an apartment – to make it a mission to let your child spend time outdoors. Put down the technology, turn off the TV, and allow them to get dirt underneath their nails. Not only will you raise happier children, but you will also raise children who appreciate and respect living and life.
Do you think your kids spend enough time outdoors?