Have you heard of Nature Deficit Disorder? No? Well, it is a disorder that is most prevalent among young children these days. It has to do with children not spending enough time with nature and preferring to stay indoors.
So, what compels them to snap off their ties from nature? Well, for starters, we take a lot of pride in our tech-savvy kids striving to adapt to the changing world. The stark truth, however, is that we are ruining their childhood years by not exposing them to the storehouse of beauty that nature offers.
Reena Chengappa, founder of MySunny Balcony, emphasises the monumental role nature plays in the early development of a child. She says, “Nature should ideally be children’s first teacher. The vast diversity in nature instinctively appeals to the curious mind and instills in children the need to explore, learn and understand not just through words, but smell, touch and hearing the sounds of nature. It teaches them that the possibilities are endless. Nature is the best way to introduce a child to the magic of life.”
Talking about how nature provides some real-life learning, she mentions that when they see a sapling grow into a plant that may yield a flower or a fruit, they learn about nurturing and caring. Nature also helps children learn to deal with disappointment in the gentlest way. They can see that not all plants survive, not all plants flower, but that does not mean they are not to be tended or important. It instills in them the very qualities that they would need to develop to interact well with other human beings.
Reena’s endeavour aims to create a garden in a small space like a balcony or a terrace that would allow nature back into the home. She says,
“Some of our most successful gardens have been in houses where there are children who got completely involved with the gardens.”
MySunny Balcony organises a plethora of activities to increase children’s interaction with nature.
“We have also created and conducted workshops specifically for children to help them learn the basics of gardening. We keep the workshops very interactive and experiential,” she adds.
Dr Swati Popat Vats, president, Podar Education Network, tells SheThePeople.TV, “We need to have kids fall in love with nature and belong to it.”
Vats is the national representative of The Nature Forum In Early Childhood.
She aims to achieve this by a lot of outdoor activities for kids like having school for a full day at the beach or park, having story sessions in the outdoors, taking children with their raincoat when it rains or a puddle play, having a mud day celebration, making children sleep on grass and look at cloud shapes, taking kids with crayon boxes to the park and asking them to find each colour in nature.
Diipti Jhingiani, Founder of Let’s Be Outdoorsy, feels that it is the academic pressure today’s children reel under which thwarts them from going outdoors. The kind of education imparted is also a deterrent. “Academic life for most kids is wired around success and achievements. Failure is made to look like the evil twin. But that’s not how the real world functions. There are ups and downs, there are small successes, there are long gestation periods of hard work. The academic curriculum does not communicate this to kids today but being in the outdoors does.”
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Let’s Be Outdoorsy conducts film festivals about India’s outdoors, conducts green workshops and hosts talk shows with celebrated athletes like open water swimmers, triathletes, mountaineers and nature lovers. All of these are aimed at inspiring the outdoor spirit that is latent in us all — adult and child alike.
Besides infusing children with energy, nature also makes them inquisitive about the various natural processes that take place around us. It is, thus, imperative to propel children to reconnect with nature which will ultimately help them reconnect with themselves.
Charvi Is An Intern With SheThePeople.TV