These twelve days of Christmas are such a beautiful and reverent time of year. I hope you all are enjoying being outside and experiencing all that Nature has to offer through all your senses. This is so important for children. In our culture, screens and technology have taken over so much of the childhood of our children. If you need more research-based data regarding this, please Common Sense Media’s report about Children’s Media Use in America. (latest statistics I see on this site are 2013). Here is a report about brain changes with screen time from Psychology Today. This abstract is a review of the negative effects of screen time for children under the age of 3 and is a quick review. This article on Facing the Screen Dilemma is one of my favorites. This abstract details the association between greater than 2 hours of screen time a day with severe school absenteeism. Here is an article by the American Academy of Pediatrics that discusses the positive and negative of social media for children and teens, including the hazards of “Facebook depression”, sexting and cyberbulling, and why the minimum age for participating with sites such as Facebook is age 13. Interesting reading….
Which brings me back to field, farm, forest and stream. There are so many positives to getting our families outside. Here are just a few from my perspective as a pediatric physical therapist and from other resources from the forest kindergarten movement:
- Family teamwork can be developed, along with family identity
- Development of physical capabilities in the realms of gross motor, fine motor, and sensory system capacities. This is especially important in this day and age in which the number of children with sensory system regulation challenges is increased, and in a place and time where the gross motor skills of many kindergarten-aged children are underdeveloped.
- Development of core body strength, which is necessary for later academic success.
- Development of language skills
- Development of depth perception
- Improves mental health (also very important for children of today); decreases stress
- Promotes stronger executive functioning skill development
- Helps develop self-esteem and self-reliance, self-confidence
- Develops abilities to assess risk
- Improves concentration and attention
- Contributes to respect for and understanding of nature
- “Timeless” moments: extended unstructured time in nature and with animals
If you are looking for more information about the benefits of “farmschooling”, which has received relatively less press than the forest kindergarten movement, I suggest these two resources. This one is about the benefits of farm for teenagers from a Montessori perspective: http://liveandlearnfarm.com/farmschooling-montessori-middle-school-part-2/ and here is an entire website for Farm-Based Educators Inspired by Anthroposophy https://biodynamics.com/fbeiba. There are also many websites that lay out the mental and physical benefits of gardening, which could be applied to farming as well.
Please continue to post your comments or pictures of your excursions into forest, farm, field and stream here or on Twitter @ParentingHearth