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4 Reasons Children Benefit From More Interaction With Nature

By Carl-Martin Nelson, Director of Marketing and Enrollment | Published: August 27, 2014

Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle, spoke recently with a CTV morning host about the importance of encouraging children to have positive experiences in the natural world.  Louv argues that there are mental and physical benefits for children and families if kids have greater involvement in the natural world. "We may need nature in ways we don't fully understand," Louv argues in the video available here on YouTube.

Benefit 1: Behavior 

In the interview, Louv cites research from the University of Illinois that indicates that children who have symptoms of ADD were more able to exert positive control over themselves even after a "short walk in the park."  Louv also references research that supports the idea that children with mild ADD saw improvements with routine exposure to the natural world.

Benefit 2: Health

Louv also discusses the health risks associate with childhood obesity and argues that children who spend more time outdoors are healthier and less likely to suffer from childhood obesity.

Benefit 3: Courage

With so little interaction with the natural world, children are developing a fear of nature that inhibits their play in the natural world. In fact, Louv argues, so many of the messages about nature and the natural world in the media reinforce unfounded fears. Increased time spent in nature also gives children confidence and helps them learn to confront the unknown.

Benefit 4: Mental Health

Louv also refers to the peace of mind and comfort than can come from positive engagement with nature and goes on to argue that children who regularly spend time in the natural world are calmer, more comfortable with themselves and can get along better with others.

Louv is careful to make clear that he is not anti-technology, advocating instead common sense amounts of "screen time" for children and encouraging parents to go outdoors with their children if possible. Louv goes into greater detail and explores what he calls "Nature Deficit Disorder" in this conversation with Minnesota Public Radio

About Carl-Martin Nelson

Carl-Martin Nelson, a former dean of Waldsee, the German Language Village, is Concordia Language Village’s director of marketing and enrollment. Carl-Martin has been on staff at Concordia Language Villages for 25 years. He is fluent in German and has studied Norwegian. A National Board Certified Teacher, he earned his master’s degree in writing from Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. Prior to assuming a full-time position at the Villages, Nelson was on the English faculty at St. Johnsbury Academy, an independent day and boarding school in St. Johnsbury, Vt. for 19 years.

While at St. Johnsbury, he also directed the Colwell Center for Global Understanding and the new teacher induction programs. Nelson has presented at regional and national conferences on the subjects of language program advocacy, marketing and technology, global citizenship and leadership development.

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