Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Get Outdoors!

Recently, I've been reading the book, 'Last Child In The Woods; Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder' by Richard Louv.
It's a great book!  I highly recommend it.
For so long, I've been concerned about the pull of electronics on my children's lives.  Boys in particular seem drawn to games, computers and t.v. over anything else. 
It's been an ongoing battle for me.  I try to teach them to balance their time or I have to restrict it.  
If I had my way, we would have no television in our home.  Maybe a small TV with a DVD player for the occasional movie.  Unfortunately, my husband and I can't agree on that.  
He grew up with television, I grew up with the occasional channel or two and a mother who didn't allow us to watch t.v. except for the occasional holiday special, Saturday morning cartoons, 'Lawrence Welk' and 'Little House on the Prairie'.   

Paul Cooperman remarked, when he observed (in the early 1980's) that a child spends more time between the ages of five and eighteen in front of the television set (15,000 hours) than in school (11,500 hours),
  "Consider what a child misses during the 15,000 hours he spends in front of the TV screen.  He is not working in the garage....or in the garden...not doing homework, or reading, or collecting stamps....not cleaning his room, washing the supper dishes or cutting the lawn...not playing baseball or going fishing or painting pictures.  Exactly waht does television offer that is so valuable that it can replace all of these activities?" 

Indeed, and I would include video games in that.

To see updated statistics on television and child health, go here.

Years ago, I saw a great film called, 'Avalon'.   It portrays a family emigrating to America, extended family slowly earning enough to bring over the others from the Old Country.  You see their traditions, their togetherness.  But family dynamics change when the young generation in America grows up and television is introduced.  The old traditions begin to disintegrate as modern American customs are embraced.  

 Here is Amazon's Editorial Review for it:
Writer-director Barry Levinson is at his best when exploring his native Baltimore during his formative years: the 1950s and 1960s. This film, drawing upon family stories, tells a compelling, amusing tale about an extended group that came to America one by one, each earning enough to bring the next sibling. The new, American-born generation--represented by Aidan Quinn and Kevin Pollak--see a future in that mysterious machine known as the television, even as the older generation, led by Armin Mueller-Stahl, finds its traditions shattering or being put aside. Funny, tragic, and telling, it's a terrific, multifaceted film that ultimately details the breakdown of the oral tradition in the wake of television's burgeoning popularity. --Marshall Fine

Fortunately, The Man of the House and I both grew up in a time when kids played outdoors for the majority of their childhoods.   Most of our great memories revolve around outdoor play and imagination. 
It saddens me that so many children today sit passively in front of electronic boxes.   
My own children are not exempt.
I've been trying to teach them to govern themselves in that area; a different, nicer angle than me yanking the cords from the wall and putting it up in a cl0set or throwing it in the trash. 
(Because that is the temptation with which I struggle!)
My goal now is to teach them correct principles and allow them to govern themselves as much as they are able.  So I educate them on statistics, I point out the endless possibilities of hobbies and nature, sports and recreation.   And then, I get them outdoors.   
(and sometimes I still unplug it all and hide it away)
Nature has a way of doing the work for me.  

Recently, we went camping in Nebraska.   The kids played and swam, cooked over a fire and fished to their heart's delight.  It was.....wonderful.
Here are pictures from that trip:
 Arriving in the middle of a rainstorm

Finding, studying and, of course, naming toads

My children begged me to read to them.  How incredibly enjoyable, to read 'The Great Brain' outdoors, next to the lake.

The girls in the middle of their three-legged race.

Get your kids and yourself outdoors!

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