Why nature?

When my sisters and I were kids outside play was not a topic, it just was. No one made a fuss about it; we were told to go play outside...sometimes we were dismissed, or felt banished in a way, but we rarely complained about it. There were small thrills - catching a frog down by the creek, climbing trees and catching butterflies. 

There were also big thrills, like rescuing a baby bird with a broken leg, or poking a bee hive - okay, I would say dangerous thrills. Of course, I would never encourage my little ones to poke at a bees nest, but the fact is that we got outside and did the things that other kids were doing outside.Today, it's a different story. Kids rarely get outside. They read about animals in books. They see pictures of nature on TV. They are growing up in, and are surrounded by mass technology, concrete jungles, and a culture/idea of indoor play and indoor safety. Free unstructured play is like a rare gift, an after-thought - sad! As humans we did not evolve sitting inside in front of electronics.  As humans we took risks, make judgement calls and learned how to adapt. Here are a few things that I have noticed about my Small Wonders and the time we spend outside:
  1. they are more physically active... which helps prevent obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues
  2. they are more relaxed and calm in nature
  3. they have more advanced motor skills, such as agility, balance and coordination
  4. they higher levels of vitamin D, which in turn strengthens their bones and immune systems - a big deal in Alberta due to it's geographical location
  5. they engage in more imaginative games, interact more and get along better
  6. they are more likely to develop a lifelong love for nature and care to preserve it
  7. they are less likely to engage in bullying when they play in natural environments
A few months ago, it was freezing. I think it was minus 35 degrees outside. I did not take the kids on our daily walk, however, as I saw them sitting and gazing longingly outside (from my kitchen window). I took them to the back door. I told them it was very cold outside, and that we wouldn't be able to go outside. I told them that I would open the door for a few minutes so they could see the snow, and feel the air. 
I opened the door for no more than 3 minutes - they stood back, then proceeded to stick their faces out...just a bit. They stuck their hands out a bit - the snow was falling down lightly. One child reached out to grab a bit of snow. 
...3 minutes was more than enough, they decided that they'd enough and we closed the door. That was 3 minutes of nature.
We need to force ourselves to get back to nature. In doing so, our children will follow our lead.


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“A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank…but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.”
~ Forest Witcraft

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