American children have changed how they spend their time playing, and as a result, their relationship with nature. They've gone from ruling the countryside to ruling the remote control! Today's prevalence of TV, computer, and video games, compounded by loss of open space to development, has left kids plugged in and tuned out to nature.
In his groundbreaking 2006 book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder
, journalist Richard Louv cited kids' lack to direct experience with nature largely to blame for alarming increases in obesity, attention deficit disorder, and poor social skills. Louv's book has sparked a national movement to inspire parents to lead their children back to nature.
The Forest Preserve District of Will County is taking action to reverse the dangerous trends created by children's disconnection from nature. The Forest Preserve joins Chicago Wilderness to launch a regional initiative called Leave No Child Inside, with the goal of improving children's health and fostering generations of children who care enough for nature to protect it.
One of the greatest gifts you can give children is a love of nature. Children need regular time outdoors, so visit a Forest Preserve near you to experience something new every day. Take time to skip stones across the water, count butterflies, or go fishing. The Forest Preserve District of Will County provides open natural areas where children can run, have fun, and play safely. Let your kids take the lead - with their natural curiosity, they will quickly find something to explore!
Tips for Parents:
- Give your child unstructured time outside. This will build curiosity and confidence.
- Spend time with your child outside. Attend a nature program together, or visit a lake or local park district.
- Enjoy nature in your neighborhood. Plant a community garden, watch birds, or climb trees.
- Hold a scavenger hunt in the backyard. Items could include flowers, bird tracks, squirrels, something that makes noise, colors of nature, worms, and insects.
- Play games to encourage looking, such as "I Spy."
- Don't be afraid of not knowing the answers. Let your children be curious. Visit the local library to check out books on birds, rocks, insects, or other aspects of nature.
- Visit KidsOutside.info for more ideas on where to go and what to do outside with your kids.
- Check out our Event Calendar to find programs and activities to connect you and your child with the natural world in a Forest Preserve.