Kids and Nature (Part I) : Why Children Need REAL Nature Experiences – Away from TV

by Rashmie on April 13, 2012 · 6 comments

in Holistic Living,Nature Learning

Starting today, I’ll be sharing a series of articles on bringing nature into our lives – sharing the why, what, how, when. It’s going to be interesting – that I can assure you – with lots of pictures!

In the first of the series, I share my thoughts on why it’s important for our children (and us) to have REAL nature experiences – away from merely the vicarious pleasure of watching nature on television. 

Television, I have to admit, feeds a certain interest of mine. And that interest is – good storytelling. Yeah, I have a soft corner for stories. And, I satisfy that interest by listening, watching, narrating them myself, by writing and ofcourse –  reading.

I like to watch Discovery, National Geographic Channel (NGC) or Animal Planet – not only for the rich content on nature, wildlife, adventure but also for their storytelling.

Really, I love their commentary/narration of a scene or an incident. Those commentaries capture my interest and imagination. They have stories, suspense, storytelling skill and intriguing information as well.

And the visuals! Well, yes, those visuals are extraordinary and exotic – something that’s far far away from the city life that we lead! Argh….

Having said all this, I absolutely believe that watching nature programs on Discovery or NGC is NOT going to give us and our children REAL nature experiences.

On the contrary; and rather frightening – they may even distance us from nature – actual nature – even further.

You may ask why?

Well, for one, authentic nature experiences mean – CONTACT with nature.

It means being WITH and WITHIN nature to feel, touch, smell, listen, observe, explore. To experience it with all five senses.

Television content merely gives us vicarious pleasure of being in nature.

It provides entertainment. But, that entertainment comes wrapped in a guise. It also makes us think that by watching such content, we’re forming connections with nature.

We may be prone to treat this virtual nature time as a substitute for all the nature walks we could be otherwise taking.

Sure, these programmes give us joy but they will never be able to help us form a bond. Because our FIVE SENSES are not engaged. We watch our small screens come alive with the greens and we all let out a collective “aahhhh…” and a drawn out “wooooow”. But, never once will we FEEL the pleasure of being close to nature.

Worse still – the Discovery channel programs make Nature seem so EXOTIC. And, so REMOTE. 

Really, this is even more worrisome. When we see those gorgeous locales and the rawness of the wild – we think only THAT as nature. And, we pine for it. We feel bad that such type of nature is not in our fortune .

I feel that way, too – to be honest.

Which is a WRONG thing to think!

Our kids may end up forming an impression that nature is not accessible to us because it’s so far away in the forests of Amazon or in the wilds of Africa. They may grow up without realizing that even the veggie and flower plants or a couple of trees in their backyard are nature and they are equally precious. Or that – the trees dotting the street in our neighbourhood are something to take notice of, look up at, spot the birds perched there and admire…

Agreed – some nature seem much more exotic than others. And, that type of nature may be pretty far away. Sure, the BIG five of Africa are enchanting but they’re also inaccessible to many of us. The corals are indeed rare and remote: down-under.

But, the truth also is – nature is so close to us. We don’t need to go anywhere far and remote to enjoy such experiences.

It is right there in our backyards. Or, in parks, gardens, forests, or National Parks.

Nature is beautiful even when it does not seem exotic. And, it is peaceful, soothing and healing even when it’s not exotic.

All we need to do is make a conscious effort to get closer to nature – know it, appreciate it, explore it.

The nature time on small screen is fine. It gives us so much information to chew on.

But, for nature to soothe us and heal us and for the kids to develop a love – we have to get closer to nature. And enjoy in so many intuitive, impromptu, unstructured and structured ways.

Being out and about in the greens – this is the most effective way to some of the problems that kids in today’s world are facing, including, stress, obesity, lethargy, demotivation, lack of imagination and even depression.

Virtual nature is NOT the solution.

Feeling the soil under their feet and the wind in their hair; listening to the rustle of the fallen leaves and taking in the scent of the wet soil – all these are pure joy to the senses that we must have our kids experience….

Next up in this series, I share ideas (with photos) on how to enjoy Nature Walks in an unstructured, spontaneous ways.

Have you seen our Earth Day Celebrations blog hop? It’s going wild and green with ideas and projects to celebrate the Earth. Check it out. You may also link up your own Earth Day project.

Earth Day Celebrations

<a href="http://www.mommy-labs.com/creative-kids/art_craft_projects_kids/earth-awareness-kid-made-quiz-recycled-art-journal-folder" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.mommy-labs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/button_white_magenta_green.jpg" alt="Mommy Labs" width="125" height="125" /></a>

Some of the ideas that stood out to me from the blog hop:

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jayadeep Purushothaman April 14, 2012 at 11:39 am

Very valid argument indeed – but where is nature around cities ? Driving out to see nature is unnatural as well!

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Rashmie @ Mommy Labs April 30, 2012 at 11:57 am

Jayadeep,
I don’t agree that there is no nature around us!! Nature may not be in the form of the woods that Robert Frost talked about in his poems, but it surely is there in the early morning sunrise or sunset, the trees in the neighbourhood or even in the potted plants in your balcony or backyard, in the night-time sky and sky gazing!

Besides, it’s also not true that there is no greenery left behind in our cities. There surely are parks and gardens and reserve forests. I know they’re here in Delhi – otherwise a concrete jungle. And, we often go for our nature walks to parks like Lodhi Garden, Nehru park and some others.

It’s there in other cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, too. We have to seek out the green opportunities that we have rather than keep lamenting the loss and do nothing!

In the second part of this series on nature and kids, I’ve shared 50+ ideas to enjoy nature in the everyday, seemingly mundane life and setting. You may read here:
http://www.mommy-labs.com/creative-kids/nature-activities-appreciation-kids/50-ideas-to-enjoy-nature-with-sense-of-wonder-delight-spontaneity/
Rashmie @ Mommy Labs’s recent fabulous post..Mother’s Day Art Edition: Silk Dyed Egg and ‘Me Time’ Link-ups

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swapna April 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I completely agree that kids needs to be far away from the TV and closer to nature. But at the same time all of us are not able to take our kids to parks and gardens. How can you incorporate nature at home in small ways? I am fortunate to have a small garden in my new home where I will be shifting soon. Can you guide me Rashmie how I can bring more and more of nature to it?
swapna’s recent fabulous post..My Daughter’s Fun and Simple Princess Theme Birthday at Home

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Rashmie @ Mommy Labs April 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Swapna,
It’s amazing that you’ll have a small garden to yourself in your new house! That’s heart warming. One idea that I can instantly think is – give a portion of the garden to your kid/s and have him/her do whatever they want to – dig, sow, water, plant, make mess with water and soil, build castles, make a mud pie kitchen!
Having a small piece of land that they can ‘own’ is a great motivator and also makes them feel responsible and proud!
I’ve done that for Pari in my balcony and it has done wonders. She considers that big square balcony her home. The mud pie kitchen that I made for her over there is her permanent home now!
Rashmie @ Mommy Labs’s recent fabulous post..Mother’s Day Art Edition: Silk Dyed Egg and ‘Me Time’ Link-ups

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Gina from www.willowday.com April 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I love this. Thank you — my instinct is always so but it’s so nice to have another formulate these thoughts, as well.
Gina from http://www.willowday.com‘s recent fabulous post..THIS GIFT WRAP for…

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Rashmie @ Mommy Labs April 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Thank you, Gina, for stopping by to comment. I’m glad you resonated with my thoughts about kids and nature. :-)
Rashmie @ Mommy Labs’s recent fabulous post..Mother’s Day Art Edition: Silk Dyed Egg and ‘Me Time’ Link-ups

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