Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Children in Nature... Happier, Healthier, Smarter

by Kathy Terrell, Schoolhouse Manager
Think about your favorite childhood memories. Did any of them involve being outside riding bikes, building forts, catching fireflies playing outside until the streetlights came on? Things were slower then! Or did we only think they were slower? To a child of yesteryear, summertime seemed endless and full of possibilities!

In sharp contrast is the child of today—overbooked, overscheduled (racing to get from swim team practice to baseball practice to music lessons) or (left to their own devices) spending hours in front of a television set or playing video games. Whatever happened to those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer for today’s children? The timeframe is still the same, but the mentality is totally different. Today’s child has limited time to explore and play the way children of yesteryear did.

Recent research has shown that today’s indoor, sedentary lifestyle is harming children. Conversely, unstructured play in nature has been shown to make kids happier, healthier and smarter. In response to these findings and the growing concern of nature deficit disorder, grassroots organizations have sprung up in Ohio, across the country and around the world. In fact, Ohio is one of the nation’s leaders in the Leave No Child Inside Movement. To learn more about the movement, visit www.ohiolnci.org.

In the meantime, let’s make the most of summer for our sake as well as our children’s. Do you need a few ideas to get you thinking about things you can do to get everyone outside?
Click here for a list of natural opportunities Lake Metroparks has to offer your child this summer.

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