April: Children & Nature Awareness Month (Part 2)

Other than eating meals together as a family and providing adequate sleep and outdoor playtime (as mentioned in the previous blog), what else can we do to rear happy, healthy children? Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids, writes: “…the whole new thinking about happiness (and maturity) is that these qualities come from actually doing things. Creating. Exploring. Being independent.”

Which includes walking to school. “Walking to school used to be so commonplace, it wasn’t even up for discussion,” says Skenazy. “…Now the number of kids walking is down to about 10 percent. …if kids started walking again, everyone would be better off, thanks to less pollution, less traffic, few accidents, and fitter—as opposed to fatter—kids.”

My four siblings and I walked to school. We walked home for lunch then back again. We also rode bikes, climbed trees, played kickball with the neighbor kids, rolled in the grass and joined school and community sports teams. Today, many moons later, we all love the outdoors, and not one of us is overweight.

A social worker, who is also an outdoorsman, once told me that kids have a natural desire to be out with dirt and bugs. “There’s something good, something wholesome about being as near to nature as you can get,” he said. “The closer people are to the earth, the happier and healthier they are.” Encourage your kids/grandkids to explore their world this summer, using the raw materials it offers to build amazing creations.

Start in your backyard. I remember the hollyhock-flower dolls I made for my little sisters and the high-pitched whistles we could elicit from lilac leaves (and their bitter taste!). The pretend houses I assembled from my father’s used lumber pile and the elaborate street system my brothers designed in the backyard dirt for their cars. The hours we spent playing tetherball and bouncing each other on our homemade teeter-totter. The cool feel of the grass on my arms and legs when we lay on our backs to name the cloud formations. The powerful tug of a kite flying high above.

Again, this is Children & Nature Awareness Month. Enjoy! Becky

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