By Leslie Lindsay
HOW TO RAISE A WILD CHILD comes out tomorrow–Tuesday, March 24th 2015 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and I cannot think of a better March book than this one!
“Dr. Scott the palentologist” (Scott Sampson) from PBS KIDS’s DINOSAUR TRAIN takes us on an unforgettable journey through the woods, stomping through marshy areas of ponds, and sitting alongside the flotsam and jetsam of the California coast. Sure, he loves nature and so does his daughter, Jade but what better person than a nature-lover to show us parents (and educators), how to roll up the sleeves and immerse oneself into the nature around our little corner of the world.
And that may be the challenge. In today’s world, we’re so connected we’re disconnected. Follow me? Because of all of our screen-time, we *think* we are staying connected to our jobs, our friends, our family, the things we care about, but in reality, we are alienating ourselves from nature.
One particular “sticking point” from HOW TO RAISE A WILD CHILD was this: Think about a special childhood place…smell it, feel it, hear the sounds, are you alone–or with someone? Got your place…okay, now were you inside or outside?
Most baby-boomers will indicate an outdoor location. Those born in the late 1960s and 1970s, might as well. Maybe they have both, an indoor and and outdoor location of childhood specialness. If that’s the case–great. Dr. Scott goes on to say that children born after this time period *may* not associate their happy childhood place as an outdoor location. The result: they may look back on their childhood years as being happy in front of screen.
HOW TO RAISE A WILD CHILD delves into ways to bring technology and nature together. Love photography? Gotta a kiddo who does? Why not take nature-inspired photos and make a slide show? Greeting cards? Magnets? Give them as gifts. Other ideas: grow a garden, join a co-op, develop a nature club, etc. There are *countless* suggestions in this book to inspire, educate, and promote being one with nature.
Here are Dr. Scott’s Top 8 Tips to Get Kids into Nature:
1. Make New Habits. Take a bit of time to discover the varieties of wild or semiwild nature resources close to home. The local park, playground, schoolyard, or your own backyard are wonderful starting places.
2. Free Play Rules! Carve out regular time for your kids to engage in unstructured play, with a portion of it outdoors. “Unstructured” simply means without adult guidance or supervision by allowing kids to use their own imgination using naturally available elements–water, sticks, dirt, and rocks.
3. Start Sit Spoting. Find a spot near home that you can use daily. Sit. Watch. Listen. How does the area change at different times of the day? Different seasons?
4. Become a Hummingbird Parent. We’re familiar with ‘helicopter parenting,’ but what about giving your kids the space and autonomy to take risks while you stay on the periphery sipping nectar and zooming in only when necessary?
5. Questioning. Ask your kids what happened after they have spent some time in nature–what did they see, hear, feel? Can they give you a story of the day?
7. Snap Some Nature Photos. Leverage the nature connection by encouraging kids to take photos of 5 (or whatever number) of natural things that interest them.
8. Discover Your Own Nature Passion. Maybe you’re more of an “indoor person,” if that’s the case, then consider stretching yourself for the sake of the little people in your life. Maybe it’s gardening or flower arranging, nature photography, hiking, fly-fishing, or skiing. Have fun and be a role model!
Dr. Scott also brings much educational research to the table, indicating that time in nature actually bolsters performance in the classroom, and why. The educator in mean loves that, the mom in me appreciates it, and the writer in me has made me want to get out of my comfort zone (behind the laptop) and get out in nature. Listen to the podcast/read the story on NPR.
I think it will you, too.
About SCOTT SAMPSON
SCOTT SAMPSON is a dinosaur paleontologist and science communicator. He serves as vice president of research and collections at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and, as “Dr. Scott the Paleontologist,” hosts the PBS KIDS television series Dinosaur Train. Please see his website for more information. [author image retirevedfro http://www.scottsampson.net/index.php?page=bio 3.2015 cover image,retrievd edfroon3201 northshorekid.com ]