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Sharing Nature With Children - Lindsay Wildlife Experience

Nov 27, 2016 01:30PM ● By Becky Coburn

By Emily Holm 

“How can I make sure my child succeeds in life?” This is the chorus of laments from modern parents, starting at a very early age. Many seek out music lessons, language classes, athletic training and even admission coaches, all before their child even enters preschool.  

All of these can be wonderful endeavors. But there is an avenue of wonder that many parents do not seek out that is documented to provide a broad range of benefits for children, including; stress reduction, improved academic performance, better eyesight, more advanced motor skills, heightened creative play, increased concentration, and lower risks of obesity. This free activity you can do with your child does not take any special skills or training: Help children build a personal relationship with nature!

Numerous studies from the past few decades show that spending time playing outside offers children all of these benefits, and more. Yet kids are spending less and less time playing outside. Richard Louv named this trend, “nature-deficit disorder” in his book, The Last Child in the Woods.

There are actually a number of reasons that kids today may not spend much time playing outside, including distractions from technology, lack of access to natural spaces, and physical discomforts, such as bugs and heat. But if children have a personal experience with nature, they are almost twice as likely to enjoy spending time outside with their peers and be more appreciative of the natural world and the value of protecting the environment. At Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek, a main goal is to help children create that connection with wildlife by teaching them about the animals in their own backyard!

Building a relationship with nature does not have to be difficult or costly. Families can go into their own backyards or neighborhood parks, look closely at the different colors they can find, count bugs, “paint” with water on rocks, close their eyes and listen for wildlife sounds, or make mud soup.  

Sometimes, the best plan for playing in nature is to have no plan at all! Giving children a chance for regular, unstructured time in nature can be the most impactful. Especially for young children, environmental education should begin with teaching them that the natural world is a special place for play, hands-on exploration, and discovery. 

Sadly, there is no single, miraculous solution for success, but making sure the children in your life are getting outside and supporting programs that give all children access to natural areas may be the closest we have.