Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Touch of Nature............

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.
Albert Einstein.

"Children must go out in Nature",  says the Danish brain scientist and physician Kjeld Fredens. He is not wrapping up his message when he's talking about the consequences of that children of today so obviously   rarely go out and feel nature at first hand.

According to a new survey children of today go out in nature only half as much as their grandparents when they were children. Compared with today's children nature was far more used as an everyday pastime or playground when the generation of grandparents were children. Back then children often moved about on their own. 

Kjeld Fredens says that the children's senses are being under stimulated - the creativity in the right brain hemisphere is only rarely awaken and the learning has got difficult conditions.

"If we are alienated to nature we lose it and therefore we lose ourselves. " But when the children are out in nature they sense the shades in the autumn forest,  they listen to the richness of bird species or to the silence, they feel the rough and wet bark, when they climb the trees and they notice and smell the moist earth after rain. Children are learning through experience, action and understanding. Nature promotes children's curiosity because it constantly amazes them. 

" Without sensuality we lose the closeness with our environments", Kjeld Fredens says and continues. "When we are indoors or walk in a city, everything we see are of linear structures. This stimulates only the left brain hemisphere, where our analytical abilities are - and then we get too focused on details and not on the wholeness. We'll be easy to manipulate, and we'll have a large need of being in control. In nature we are part of a large whole, and it is important to the children to be aware of this and to be humble towards it".

Kjeld Fredens is worried about how much children are occupied by fx mobiles and computer games. He calls it focused attention. This constant focus is burning off glucose in the brain so the child gets tired and uneasy. The nature in all its unpredictability calls upon the open or involuntary attention of the children, and this is the place where they should go out to recharge their batteries and relax.

New survey: Through the latest years four big Danish hospitals have experienced an increase of between 10 and 30 % in the number of children who were so sick of stress that they had to be hospitalized.  

"Last Child in the Woods".
Richard Louv, an American author and journalist, published in 2005 a book "Last Child in the Woods". He says among many things that parents of today overlook that children's play in nature is vital to their mental and intellectual development. He tells them that if they want their children to go to Harvard University one day, then they'll have to send them out in nature now. He links the deficit of nature in today's children to something like the obesity epidemic, behavioral disorders and depression. Richard Louv is not against the technology. He wants to promote a larger balance and a new environmental movement. The more technology we are surrounded by, the more we need a destressing nature. We'll have to use our creativity to create still more nature, a still better world, which increases our Quality of life . "Someone says we'll have to go back to nature," says Richard Louv. "Instead we'll have to go ahead with nature".

More Nature for more Children.
A leader of Dansk Naturfrednings school service, Ole Laursen, is working professionally with creating and inspiring nature experiences for children and adults. He points to the importance of nature coming to the children, since the study shows that few children are going out in nature. First of all the parents, the teachers, the educators, the politicans and the grandparents must start realizing that nature is the basis of our lives.

If it is difficult to go come out in nature, then nature must be invited closer to us  - and the everyday nature in gardens, parks and around schools and institutions must be utilized. The parents have often got a lack of time, this can be a problem, says Ole Laursen. But it might partly be solved by watching less TV or making less updates to Facebook. Something has to be deselected in order to give the children the best childhood and at the same time help nature in the long run. It is not possible to abolish TV and computer games, but it is possible in between to give the children a free space in nature, where they are disconnected from the world , where they enjoy peace for thought, motion and to use all their senses.

If the parents watch too much out for the children and if they make too many schedules, then they remove the children's possibility of meeting the challenges themselves and in this way develope their self confidence. Ole Laursen suggests that there might be a way in which the mobile or the GPS could give the children a possibility to be in places, where the parents else won't allow them to be for a short or longer time.

Source: Theme: Children in Nature, by Maria Lykke Andersen, Natur og Miljø, nr. 6, December 2011, Danmarks Naturfredningsforening.  

photos, children: grethe bachmann


Out on the prairie said...

i got a copy of "Last Child In Tjhe Woods' when I heard about it. A group shared thoughts while reading it in a chat at Birds and Blooms mag online.

Michael and Hanne said...

A very interesting post .
Too true as well.

Thyra said...

Hej Steve, the book hasn't been published in DK yet. I read that there had been a debate about it when it was published in the US.

Michael and Hanne, yes I think it's true. At least I remember that me and my friends were much out in the free when we were children in the 1940s. And most of us had grandparents out in the country where I spent all my holidays. Now generations have moved to the city , the grandparents live in the city too, and the children do not have the possibility to spend their holidays in the countryside. But it's good that something is being done now.

Have a nice week-end! We've got snow today!

Wanda..... said...

We've lived out in the country since my children were small and the grandchildren have all taken in nature daily. Som of their friends from school visit and I am amazed how they react to seeing a squirrel, turtle or deer...or even timid about walking 'in' the backyard woods, for fear of getting lost.

Thyra said...

Hello Wanda! Your grandchildren will always be grateful to you for the life they experience in your lovely place. It is really such a lovely place you live - in a beautiful nature, rich in flora and fauna. I'm forever grateful to my grandmother and my family in the country for letting me live a free life and enjoy my childhood. My childhood holidays in the country are very vivid to me. Sunny days!

Teresa Evangeline said...

I was very fortunate to grow up with a love of nature and a lot of time spent there. It was our playground and, in many ways, our school. What a wonderful post this is. it would be so inspiring to see these ideas more consistently implemented in homes and in schools. Thank you, Grethe, for bringing this vital subject to our attention.

Thyra said...

Hej Teresa, I somehow knew that you were, and you are still living with nature. I think it makes a person strong - this has given us a good basis. I feel sorry for the little children who haven't got this possibility. Some children don't even know how a cow looks like.
Cheers to you and sweet Buddy!
Grethe ´)

shoreacres said...

I'm catching up with your posts, and found this one so wise and touching. We are losing touch with the natural world - the real world - at least partly because of the marketing of the virtual world to us. Every new gadget is a "must have" - it's often quite irritating to me.

And in the U.S., there are more and more people who are demanding that there be no risk in the world for children. They cannot play ball. They cannot simply roam. They cannot ride bicyles freely, or walk down to the pond. The government is becoming more and more intrusive, trying to take over what always has been the responsibility of parents. It is very worrying, to many of us.

Even those of us without children are determined to help beat back the government and increase the realm of freedom.

Thyra said...

hello shoreacres! - you've got such a beautiful picture on the little photo! ´)
It's so sad that children don't have such a free childhood like we had. My parents took care of us and I had a safe and good home, but they were not overprotecting, and we did not meet all those restrictions like children meet now. Every day. And they don't learn about nature.

They might help me with my computer, but that's not enough!´)