Nurturing a Love for Nature
There is a certain sound kids make when they’re outside together. From a distance, it comes across as a giddy murmur. Mixed in is the occasional gasp (they spotted a frog), nervous laughter (they caught the frog) and squeal (the frog jumped out of her hand and got REALLY close to his face).
This sound — the giddy murmur — is a noise that naturally relaxes parents and caregivers. It means the kids are entertaining themselves, using their imagination, burning off some energy and getting some exercise. It signals that nature is helping to take care of the kids. It’s a sound we could all benefit from hearing more often.
According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), children are spending half as much time outdoors as they were 20 years ago. Another NWF study found that kids who play outside are more physically active, focused, creative in their play and less aggressive. It also found that the most direct route to caring for the earth as an adult is participating in “wild nature activities” before the age of 11.
For many kids, there are now more demands on their time, increasingly enticing entertainment options inside and less easy access to safe outdoor spaces. The nature of childhood has changed, but the joy and lasting impact of a childhood spent in nature hasn’t.
INHF is taking steps to better engage kids with the outdoors. Here, three people with a love for the outdoors write about the ways nature has nurtured their students, their children and themselves.