Modern technology has been great for society in many ways. It’s defeating disease, providing better entertainment and making us wealthier. But, as with all technologies, it’s a double-edged sword. One of the downsides is the effect that it is having on our kids. Childhood doesn’t involve the den-building and the playing out in nature that it once did. Instead, kids are sat in front of tablets, endlessly flicking through social media pages and browsing the web.
The effects of this aren’t harmless. Many more children these days are suffering from social anxieties and awkwardness. And doctors have recently discovered that five-year-olds today are physically much weaker than five-year-olds of just a decade ago.
In response to this, parents and organizations are looking at ways to “rewild” their kids. They want to get them to have the childhoods that kids were having just ten years ago – nothing radical. And they’re giving parents all sorts of ideas about how to do this. Here’s what they came up with.
Make Going Outdoors Natural
Parents have a habit of making going outside a ceremonial activity: something that needs to be planned in advance. The people at the Wild Network, a nonprofit dedicated to getting more kids outdoors, say that parents should abandon this strategy. Instead, they say, parents should make going outside something completely normal and natural. Going outside shouldn’t be something that is reserved for Saturday morning on the football pitch or Tuesday evening for hockey club. It should be something that happens on a daily basis.
Don’t Prescribe Outdoor Time
Many parents take the opposite extreme. They say that children must have “outdoor time” away from their tablets and consoles. While the motivations for this are laudable, it doesn’t work in practice.
It turns out that kids are actually very good at coming up with their own activities. If they want to play outside, they’ll come up with a game and make it happen. Kids are great at coming up with things to do even in the most mundane of settings. Let them explore their environment in their own time.
Send Them Off On Boot Camp
Being around their parents all the time isn’t always the best thing for kids. Sometimes they need some time apart to become independent people, capable of finding their own way in the world. This is why things like summer camp or a church retreat can be so beneficial. They’ll learn all about how to live out in the wild, literally, and they’ll be forced to develop strong muscles when they do things like lift up tent poles or collect water in in big containers from the public faucet.
Camp also gives children a chance to develop their emotional resilience. With no parents around, they have to find their inner strength in difficult situations. Camping isn’t always easy, but parents who want to “rewild” their children should know that.
Dig Up The Garden Together
By and large, kids aren’t all that interested in landscaping or gardening. But they are sometimes interested in growing their own food. One thing parents and kids can do together, therefore, is plant an allotment and grow food. Growing food will teach your children where food comes from and how much effort goes into the items that arrive on their plate, night after night. It also helps them to understand which foods are healthy and which aren’t, and how modern is processed to end up looking nothing like its natural counterpart.
Go Fossil Hunting
Another way to get kids out of the house is to go fossil hunting. Fossil hunting was big back in the 1970s, but kids seem to have forgotten its appeal. What could be more exciting than uncovering the stony remains of a creature that lived millions of years ago? Who knows, you could find a dinosaur.
Create A Nature Table
If you find yourself going on a walk in the forest, you could create a nature table. Send your kids out with baskets into the woods and get them to pick up things that they find like chestnuts and acorns.
This is also an excellent opportunity to teach them what is safe outdoor and what isn’t. Make sure they avoid picking up mushrooms, as some of these can be dangerous.
If you’re near a beach, you can also get them to go out looking for beautiful shells. Once everybody has collected all their items, bring them back to the nature table and talk about what you’ve found that is interesting. This is a great way for kids to actively learn about the natural world and all of its wonders.