There is something so absolutely delightful about seeing kids play outside in nature, creating worlds and games together, using just the things they can find around them - branches, sticks, feathers, rocks, water - and being totally enthralled for hours.
As we all know, this type of free play (as the research shows) in nature is an immensely healthy activity - essential actually for children’s well-being and happiness. It helps them to develop the social, emotional and physical capacity and resilience that will serve them well as they become teenagers and adults.
Despite being an outdoor culture, a tenth of Australian children only play outside once a week.
Most of their play time is indoors. Australian kids have an average screen time (watching TV and playing computer games) of 20+ hours per week - higher if time spent staring at handheld devices was included.
In one generation, there has been a huge shift in how children play and we are now observing the devastating impacts nature-deficit is having on children’s health — such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.
With all that is happening in the world today, educating for sustainability has never been so important. We need children developing wonder and love for the natural world, and gaining understanding and skills to create resilient communities. We need to refocus education to value ecological intelligence.
Ecological intelligence is the understanding of the web of life, the impacts our lifestyles have on it, and how to live sustainably. Ecoliteracy is the ways we reach this understanding while engaging our heads, hearts and hands.
Read more below....
The above is a excerpt from my article: Nature Kids: Education for Sustainable Living in PIP Magazine #5, 2016. Full article below. (Please note: the photos of me dancing, Wiruungga and the girl holding the rocks are actually taken by brilliant photographer Jody Gilchrist - not me!) .
The following slide shows show two of our Ethos Foundation Nature Kids Programs. Thanks ever so much to Jody Gilchrist for her fabulous photography and putting these together!
Futher reading and collections of research: https://www.childrenandnature.org