I have worked in Early Childhood Education for 30 years. I have directly taught and had genuine friendships with over 1000 children – and – something is not right with our kids. There is an unprecedented mental health crisis among our youth, and that is a problem that cannot be simply medicated and ignored.
A change has happened in childhood over my lifetime, and it is not a healthy change. That change is the existence of and accessibility to technology. Technology has led many to a sedentary childhood spent wired into a virtual fantasy world filled with unnatural creatures and characters.
Many years ago, I read a book called Last Child In The Woods by Richard Louv. That book has guided my thinking about childhood and education. Louv warned if “Nature Deficit Disorder” which would occur on a grand scale if children continued to spend less and less time freely exploring the the natural world.
I am sitting alone in a forest right now- and I realize that there are very few children in America who ever experience this particular type of freedom and peace.
Little by little we have allowed childhood to be taken over by a busy fast paced world filled with distraction and temptation. It is not healthy- and the consequences can not be ignored.
Our children are sick and we have to recognize that and address it- and addressing it simply means get them away from technology and get them back to the forest.
It is so easy to spend many joyful hours in the woods with children. All you have to do is sit down on a fallen tree and watch while your children explore and learn.
All you have to do is relax and let them be kids. Let them touch things and climb things and test things out. Let them get wet and let them get muddy. Let them roll in the grass and then look at the clouds. Let them slow down and relax and enjoy the world that God has given to each and every one of them.
And start right now- no child is too old. We each need to know how our feet are connected to this earth and we are all in need of spiritual healing.