Most people my age and older remember our childhoods as a time when we were free to roam. Lucky kids lived in the ‘burbs, the outskirts of town or in rural areas where we could jump, climb, run and play. Chasing frogs, toads and butterflies was part of the fun.
My parents didn’t shuttle me from gymnastics to swim team to soccer and if there were pervs in our neighborhood, we didn’t know it.
Though my mom didn’t have a Ph.D. in child psychology, she knew playing outdoors alone or with other kids was good for me. Plus, it allowed her to catch up on household chores. And back then, we had only three channels. While I found Gentle Ben, Flipper and Daktari pretty riveting TV, they were no match for the real deal. I don’t recall subjecting myself to appointment viewing, especially in Wisconsin where decent weather was in short supply.
Today’s newer parents never experienced the freedom of outdoor play unless they were raised in the country, and that has become less likely with each passing year. Their lives can be summed up by two meanings of the same word: monitor. They’re lives were regularly supervised and spent in front of a screen. And while knowledge means power it can also engender fear, especially if what you’ve discovered are registered sex offenders living in your community. Thus, you can hardly expect this generation of parents to let their offspring bounce around the neighborhood unsupervised.
Jodi Valenta, a mom, blogger and wildlife professional, is committed to sharing different ways parents and kids can have fun by playing outdoors together. While it may seem intuitive to us, it might not be to a 30-year-old who grew up in the city. So, Jodi got down to business and uncovered research that should convince concerned parents everywhere why families need nature.
One study Jodi found revealed students who participated in environmental education programs at school did better on standardized tests in math, reading, writing, and social studies. For parents hoping to better their children by exposing them to classical music before they’re born, the promise of higher test scores through outside play should be pretty tantalizing.
Another study Jodi looked at indicated the ultimate raw material for much of human intellect, emotion, personality, industry and spirit is rooted in an accessible and abundant natural environment. Caring parents want nothing more than to give their children advantages in life. This research makes it apparent they can provide a broad array of benefits without spending anything other than their time.
Those are only two examples from Jodi’s top 10 list. There are eight other compelling research-based reasons why every parent should spend time with their children puddle jumping, watching birds, peeking under rocks, examining spider webs, backyard camping, hiking and gardening. And these are all things you can do without ever leaving your yard or neighborhood. For more information, see Jodi’s blog: http://www.kidsdiscovernature.com/
Take it one step further by making a commitment to get outdoors by attending one of many events on National Hunting and Fishing Day, this Saturday, Sept. 26. Events are listed at your state wildlife agency’s site. Find your agency at this link: http://www.fws.gov/OFFICES/STATELINKS.HTML
You can also visit the National Hunting and Fishing Day site for more information: http://www.nhfday.org/Page/Events.aspx
Get outside and improve your mind, body and spirit!