Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our Kids and Nature Deficit Disorder

People hire lawyers they trust or those they feel comfortable to disclose their personal details with to find solutions that help them grow. Lawyers, as a bunch, steer from solutions and tackle loopholes in processes so that their involvement is mainly with helping the judges interpret the law in the context of a specific case.

In this context, my post is not about lawyers or cases because for me, work will always follow the way its meant to. My purpose of blogging is to interact with non-lawyers to discuss openly on matters other than laws. Its fun to discuss and follow up with those who send queries and discuss general things. Talking about schools and kids is something I do most of the time because I've got a saucy three year old with a mind of his own. It got me thinking about how important it is for parents and teachers to help kids empower themselves.

Richard Louv, in the book he authored - Last Child in the Woods, coined the term 'nature deficit disorder' which is called as NDD. It fascinated many parents and educationists across the world because it is so relevant to our times.

Here are Louv's main findings:

  • Today's children are disconnected from nature because of 'suburban sprawl.'
  • Plugged in culture keeps the kids indoors.

While Louv clearly states that nature-deficit disorder is an alienation from nature, not a medical condition, the truth is that this disorder damages children significantly.

Growing up, in my young days, was fun because it meant I could play outdoors with my bunch of friends. My mother says that I hated coming back inside because I loved playing cricket outdoors.

Today, my 3 year old son comes back from school and refuses to play with other kids or with anything other than playground equipment. He prefers being at home watching TV, reading books or coloring, but we make it a point to take him out and talk about what we see around us in the natural environment.

Nature is Best

Grandma's advice to go out and play in the sun is further strengthened by recent research findings that list the following advantages for kids who spend time outdoors and play in sync with nature:

  • smarter
  • happier
  • more creative
  • better problem solvers
  • healthier

Nature enables them to ask questions, improves their creativity and cognitive flexibility. Show a squirrel munching on a nut to a kid and talk about why it does that. Watch clouds and their shapes in the sky and talk about how thoughts and dreams grow in our mind and change shapes as time passes. There is so much that a child can experience and learn from Nature that it is so devastating if we let our kids not appreciate its true potential.

Actions For Parents and Teachers to Adopt

  • Take kids outside— Create opportunities to play outdoors. Talk, color and experience nature in every day life.
  • Walk or drive to school or around with kids so that you can talk about whatever you are passing through.
  • Request teachers in schools to encourage nature-play as it is good for the development of our children.

It is also important to educate our network of teachers, architects, builders, and community planners to plan 'natural' spaces that foster the imagination of our kids. The importance of natural space is integral to children's overall development. Every parent should get the community involved to achieve a better and more sustainable future for the sake of their kids.

In this context, watch out for schools that discourage children from outdoor activities or restrict their sessions with Nature. Every school's daily activity is supposed to let children outside to observe and enjoy their natural environment and if this activity is not happening, it could affect your child's growth and potential.

My advice is understand your kid better with each day, it will help you grow and make your little one glow.

1 comment:

Prashansa said...

It is so true! The children don't know many small small things around us which we use to know without knowing!I had to teach my daughter to climb a tree and gave up. Then never got the chance to repeat it yet!It is difficult to get them out!