I’m back, and thank you for your well wishes and prayers while my little one was sick.
Speaking of little ones, I’ve blogged before about the importance of taking children outside and teaching them to appreciate nature. Well, wouldn’t you know that in our society where even specific fruits and vegetables are given a day of celebration (hello, National Artichoke Hearts Day), there is Take a Child Outside Week, coming up Sept. 24-30. If you’re inclined, you can sign up at this site to pledge to take a child outside, then come back and report what you did. The site offers ideas on activities, if you need them. Sounds like more fun than National Artichoke Hearts Day, anyway….
I was blessed as a kid to have a swamp in my back yard and to have a wooded lot down the street to play in — along with living in a place where my parents didn’t fear for my safety the moment I went out the door, telling me just to be home in time for dinner.
American childhoods don’t seem to be like that anymore: unstructured time to play outside, go and get dirty, ride your bike around the neighborhood with your dog and your friends, grab toads and climb trees. That’s what I remember, but that doesn’t seem to be the reality for a lot of kids now, for any number of reasons.
Ever since Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods came out about two and a half years ago, there has been a lot of press related to his concept that children are spending less and less time outside — and they are suffering fot it. He developed the idea of “nature-deficit disorder” and says children who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit disorders (ADD and ADHD) can benefit from simply spending time outside. Louv’s nonprofit Children & Nature Network hopes to raise more awareness of the benefits of children spending time outdoors.
The National Wildlife Federation has also gotten into the act with a new-ish Web site called Green Hour, where you can sign up for free to become a member and get ideas on nature and outdoors activities to do with your child. There’s even a Green Hour blog. Other municipalities and organizations have gotten into the act, some with cute names like “No Child Left Inside” (a take on the Department of Education’s “No Child Left Behind” Act).
I know my son will grow up with the chance to spend quality time outside, but other kids won’t be as lucky. Maybe all those futuristic movies in which people live their whole lives indoors aren’t so far off.