The (second) best thing you can do for your child's development
The most important thing you can do for your child is...
love her unconditionally.
Ok, I know that first one is obvious. And if you're reading this article, I'm sure you can check that off easily.
The second most important thing you can do for your child is...
throw them outside more often. (Yes, I said throw.)
It's more important than feeding her organic food or putting her into the best extracurricular activities. It's more important than how much they read or how well they can do math. It's more important than playing sports or a musical instrument.
Why is it so important?
Because it is a scientific fact that spending time in nature can help with every other part of life - it fosters creativity, exploration, mental astuteness. It helps us sleep better, think better, breathe better, move better. It creates a connection to the earth so that they feel more responsible for taking care of her as they grow. They aren't restricted to four walls and have the freedom to dream!
I honestly feel silly listing all the reasons why children need to spend more time outdoors. I feel like I have to build a case for it even though for me, it is so obvious. We are born to be outdoors. It's so obvious that dogs need to be outside. If you have a dog, you know that you need to take it out for a walk at least once a day or else you will be considered a cruel dog-owner.
Yet, we aren't inclined to take our children out for a walk daily? For at least half an hour? We are meant to be outside, for goodness sake! We are animals too. And we are literally caged inside our house, workplace, car, shopping mall, restaurant, grocery store for most of our lives. But we actually CHOOSE confinement, whereas animals are forced into a zoo.
So choose freedom for your children by letting them be outside more. If they never spend time outside, start with 5 minutes out on the front porch. You don't have to fuss about what they need to wear because it's only 5 minutes. If they go to school and go to recess (do they still do that)? Then spend half an hour more after school outside in your backyard (or with a friend if they're old enough in a park). Give them a project to do. Or better yet, just tell them to play. Best yet, play with them outside.
You will be shocked with how much more calm they become. How their sleep will improve. How much more energy they will have. How they become more creative.
If you care about your child's reading capabilities, then please know that putting them outside more will help them with that.
Spending time in nature (the more natural the setting, the better) is the most important thing you can do for their growth.
It's the most important thing for a child, yet it's the least prioritized.
We are way too concerned with bubble wrapping our child most of the time. Don't be. It's ok if they fall. It's ok if they get dirty. I promise you, they will be stronger for it.
And they'll thank you when they are older. And so will the rest of society.
When I moved to Grimsby, Ontario, I was searching for a forest school for my daughter. I found Niagara Outdoor and Education Centre and they were searching for a place to run their nature school! It was the perfect fit. We just happened to have a daughter craving the outdoors and 21 acres on the Niagara Escarpment next to the Bruce Trail & Conservation Area.
So now we have a Nature School on our property. We are so happy to work with this amazing group of caring educators passionate about providing an outdoor school program to children.
If you're looking for an alternative education for your child, away from the standardized testing and restricted free play, look up some nature schools in your neighbourhood. If you're looking to add more nature into their schedule, start small. If you're looking for ideas on what to do with them, google them! There are a bunch of resources.
For more information about Niagara's Nature School, please go to their website: natureschoolniagara.com
How much time do you currently put your children outside? What do you do in the winter? What are some strategies you use to get them off their screens?
Comment below because I'd love to learn more.
Until next time.
Move Purposefully. Love Wholeheartedly. Be present.