I get messages from John Chilkotowsky via natureskills.com on a regular basis. This morning I read,
"Several years ago I took a weekend walk in a
wooded neighborhood park. I was enjoying the
summer sun and the birdsong. All was well -- until
I realized that I didn't see even one kid playing
in the park.
Where were all the kids?
In case your childhood was different than mine,
please let me explain the term "dirt bomb fight".
My friends and I would go to a nearby freshly
plowed field. We'd choose teams like proper
sportsmen, before chasing and pelting each other
with clods of dirt. Simple, huh?
We did this again and again. Barring the chaos
that ensued when an errant rock was at the center
of a dirt bomb, we went home dirty, happy, and
closer friends than when we entered the field.
Regardless of the specific form, every day we were
immersed in some kind of play with the natural
world. When I'd share stories with friends from
other neighborhoods, they had similar experiences.
However, we're now in the middle of an epidemic
of disconnection from nature. Over the past several decades, children are
spending less and less time outdoors. At the same
time there has been a doubling of the childhood
obesity rate, as well as increases in attention deficit
disorders, depression, and other health issues.
So what happened?
Some common reasons given for why 93% of kids'
time today is spent indoors:
the rise of electronic entertainment for kids
media fixation on "stranger danger" risks
reduced access to natural places
reduced time allowed for unstructured outdoor nature play,"
There was more to the posting, but it gives me fresh resolve to persist in offering Nature Literacy time each day at our school. The kids go hot and cold over being in the woods for an hour. Last week they were cold, thinking about their video games waiting for them at home. It was a transition time when the game they have been playing with such passion for months has gotten old and nothing quite as absorbing has occured to them yet. Imagination, like a seed in the soil, is gathering momentum for the big germination celebration, and there is a time of waiting for that. It is hard to wait, and it is hard for me to bear their discomfort with this time in the woods when I know how precious and valuable it is. I can hold this discomfort with them.