I just finished reading Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. According to Mr. Louv:
"Nature-deficit disorder describes the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses."
Throughout the book, he provides many examples of how being in communion with nature can decrease stress levels and promote psychological well-being. Of course, what I was really interested in was not so much the how and why of nature-deficit disorder, but how can we, as parents, prevent or reverse it? Some ideas include:
- Limiting screen time
- Structuring unstructured time into your child's day
- Going on nature walks
- Going fishing
- Skipping rocks and showing your children what's under the rocks you find
- Taking a walk after it rains and counting worms
- Watching insects flock to a porch light
- Starting a nature journal: compare what happens in the same place in different seasons; trace leaves; draw clouds; draw animals; press flowers; describe the weather; write from the point of view of an animal.
- Tracking bird migration
- Teaching your children how to spot bird and squirrel nests
- Planting a family garden
- Teaching your child how to be still and observe what is going on around him or her
If you would like to read the book yourself and you're local, you can check it out from the Upstate BirthNetwork office located in Natural Baby in Greenville. That is, as soon as I return it :)