Our environment affects us all and we all have different sensitivities, but children do not have the filters that most adults have acquired. Children absorb all the sights, sounds, smells, textures and emotions around them. Environments that meet adult needs or that adults can tolerate often feel very different to children.
Given a choice, young children will usually choose to be in a natural environment. They want to be outdoors, in the fresh air and sunlight, barefoot, surrounded by grass, trees, and flowers, hearing the birds and the wind, playing in water with sticks and rocks. If you ask most grade school children what is their favorite part of school, they say outdoor recess.
When children spend time outside where they can run, jump, climb, swing, swim, and play and are happier. We all know that children thrive in the outdoors. Yet we often forget how much the environment can affect a child’s mood and behavior. When children spend too much time inside breathing stale air, hearing the hum of all the lights, electrical appliances, and the television, playing with plastic toys, eating foods that contain artificial coloring and preservatives, they get cranky and disagreeable. At Amara we work to involve kids and get them excited about outside activities such as planting trees, game drives, and just interacting with the wild world.
Providing our children with nurturing environments is more of a challenge in today’s world than it has ever been. Many children do not live in homes with yards and gardens to explore or in neighborhoods where they can spend hours playing outside. Even the children who do live in such places often have so many scheduled activities that they have very little time to spend in their yards and gardens. Many children are spending more of their time inside buildings than outdoors at earlier and earlier ages. When children are in school, unless they participate in outdoor sports, they spend most of their time inside. Let’s nurture our kids to love their surroundings!