My goal is to take my children outside every day, but even with the best intentions there are many days that it doesn't happen because of the weather, schedules, etc. However, I definitely notice a difference in their behavior on the days it does not work out. They are rambunctious and get into trouble. Whenever this happens I think, "tomorrow we are definitely going outside." In my experience, time outside in nature helps improve their behavior. I think it helps them relax, get valuable input into their senses, restores a sense of well-being and much more. As it turns out, there is a body of research out there supports my theory.
According to the Children & Nature Network, children today are far less likely than past generations to spend time playing outside, and a growing body of research says children are paying a high price. Childhood obesity, inattentiveness, diminished creativity and depression are just a few of the problems linked to what author Richard Louv has dubbed "nature deficit disorder" in his best-selling book Last Child in the Woods. “Getting kids outdoors more, riding bikes, running, swimming—and, especially, experiencing nature directly—could serve as an antidote to much of what ails the young.” says Louv.
To raise awareness among parents, the Children & Nature Network is promoting Children & Nature Awareness Month in April. It is encouraging parents to allow their children more free play outdoors. The Network Web site provides information on special activities taking place around the country during the month. It also includes various state and local initiatives that you can join to get you and your family outside and enjoying nature.
I encourage you to become an eco parent --- a parent who commits to allowing and encouraging their kids to play outside and enjoy nature. I will strive to share our eco-activities as often as possible to help give you ideas for activities that encourage your children to play outside and enjoy nature.