When you look at this photo above, do you think, "fun!" or "ew, messy"? The answer to this question may be one of the reasons why so many children are not reaping the health benefits of nature. (1, 2, 3, 4)
I recently attended a conference exploring urban agriculture, community gardens and edible gardens in school and child care settings, and family garden fun, called Dig In. During the lunch hour, each table was asked to discuss a specific topic. My table’s topic was ‘Encouraging Outdoor Activities’ hosted by a landscape designer who served as moderator.
Our table was diverse group-urban pre-school teachers, suburban grade school teachers, a mother, landscape designers and myself. When asked to suggest ideas for our topic, our table went silent. It was a bit awkward, I must admit. I chose that table because I thought they would be bustling with ideas that I could use. What we talked about was exactly the opposite.
“Well, I will tell you why the kids don’t want to go outside,” one of the teachers started. The door was open and quickly our table became engaged in a lively discussion of the barriers to getting kids outside. Here are some of the items on that list:
It is essential that today’s youth connect with nature. No only is it good for their physical and mental health, but this younger generation will need to be aware of the changing outdoor environment. If predictions are to be believed, today’s youth will have to be creative to combat a warming climate and all the environmental and health implications that will bring. (1, 2 ,3, 4)
Are you surprised by this list? Do you have any other barriers to add?
Coming Soon: Ideas and Suggestions To Get Kids Outside. Be sure to sign up for my blog so you don't miss it!