The Restorative Effects of Green
Why Nature is Critical for Healthy Childhood Development
“There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass and white and red morning glories, and white and red clover,
And the song of the phoebe-bird…”
In this digital revolution era, we all know a child who would rather play indoors because that’s where all the electrical outlets are. In many homes across America, parents and children are no longer fighting about leaving a treehouse to come inside for dinner, but are now negotiating time spent on individual screens. Everyone in the home has their own little box of blue light threatening to wash out every natural aspect of human-to-human connection and human-to-nature connection. Most parents seem concerned, confused, and overwhelmed by this dilemma. Something doesn’t sit well in the gut of a mother who watches every member of her family wander to separate corners of the house to consume a hit of bleeding-edge electronics. As parents of young children ourselves, we hear other parents express their growing concerns regarding this issue, and for good reason…
According to Richard Louv, author of the national bestseller, The Last Child in the Woods, the problem with computers isn’t computers–they’re just tools; the problem is that overdependence on them displaces other sources of education, from the arts to nature. (Louv, Richard. The Last Child in The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficient Disorder. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 2008.) In his book, How to Raise a Wild Child, Scott D. Samson, discusses the consequences of this displacement. According to his research, many negative health effects are coming into view for children as the result of “marathon screen sessions,” and less time spent outdoors, such as lack of exercise. Chronic physical and mental illnesses have skyrocketed and about 18 percent of our kids six and older are obese. As of 2011, about 11 percent of American children four to seventeen years of age had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Samson, D. Scott. How to Raise a Wild Child. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015).
An article from the Journal of Pediatric Nursing confirms exposure to green space is one of the leading cures for this dilemma. Their research concluded that access to green space was associated with improved mental well-being, overall health, and cognitive development of children. Exposure to green space promotes attention restoration, memory, competence, supportive social groups, self-discipline, stress moderation, improved behaviors and symptoms of ADHD, and was even associated with higher standardized test scores.
(McCormick, Rachel. “Does Access to Green Space impact the Mental Wellbeing of Children?” Journal of Pediatric Nursing, Elsevier, 4 September 2017. https://www.pediatricnursing.org/article/S0882-5963(17)30185-9/pdf#relatedArticles).
In his book, The Last Child in the Woods, Louv goes so far as to call nature’s cure for well-being, “nature’s Ritalin.” He discusses a theory called attention-restoration theory which concludes that nature has a restorative effect on children and adults with directed-attention fatigue. (Louv, Richard. The Last Child in The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficient Disorder. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 2008.)
The nature-deficiency issue in children is one close to our hearts. We are a family passionate about seeking and creating opportunities for children to experience the outdoors. This is one major reasons we left our careers in accounting and started a strawberry farm. We understand how difficult it is to find quality outdoor experiences that the whole family will enjoy. For all the parents out there worried about too many screens in front of little faces, Strawberry Run offers families wide-open green space and an opportunity for connection, while curating new family traditions. Fruit picking is about so much more than delicious, fresh berries. It’s about making memories and fully embodying the gift of nature. This spring, we hope you close your laptop, put the video games away, and get outside into the beauty of nature. We’ll have a basket waiting for you...