Connecting our Children to the Outdoors

Kids OutsidePeter Kahn is an environmental psychologist at the University of Washington. Kahn has done extensive cross-cultural studies of children’s values and attitudes about open space and animal life and forests and plants and water and the degradation and disappearance of all these things. He believes that, with every generation, kids are lowering their knowledge and expectations for what is a normal interaction with nature creating a kind of generational amnesia about the natural world. If nature is indeed a source of mental and emotional replenishment, this could emerge as one of the most compelling psychological issues of the not-so-faraway future.

There are great benefits for ourselves and our children when we have a connection to nature. Here is a list of just some of the benefits:

  • Decrease stress
  • Stimulate healing
  • People develop deeper more enduring relationships
  • People become more generous
  • We experience a greater sense of joy
  • We experience a greater sense of peace
  • Greater sense of well being

A simple beginning to introduce our children to nature:

  • Become a nature watcher ourselves.
  • Have unstructured time to walk in a park even in the rain and wind.
  • Look for birds, bugs, any wildlife.
  • Observe the sky.
  • Pick a plant in your yard and take a look at the changes that occur each month for a year.
  • Plant something, tend it, observe it, and harvest.
  • Get a subscription for your children to a nature magazine:
    Your Big Backyard for ages 3-7
    Ranger Rick for ages 8-12

The mind needs nature and even a little bit can be a big help.