"Only a generation ago, kids spent long days fully engaged in outdoor play and discovery. Curiosity was our guide, wonder our reward. Our minds and bodies were engaged, our senses alive. We interacted with the world around us learning about it, and ourselves, in the process and were endlessly challenged and delighted by doing so," writes Todd Christopher, the creator of www.GreenHour.org, a website of The National Wildlife Federation. As a writer, educator, and producer, he has served as director of online media for NWF's award-winning publications.
Christopher is saddened by some recent alarming trends:
1. Today's children spend significantly less time exploring outdoors than the previous generation.
2. Kids lead sedentary and media-saturated lives while experiences in the natural world are few and far between.
3. A University of Cambridge study found that a group of eight-year-olds were able to identify substantially more Pokemon characters than common wildlife species.
4. A comprehensive study revealed the link between greater media exposure and long-term negative effects on the health of children and teenagers.
Christopher suggests that parents provide their children with a green hour a day to help keep them "happier, healthier, and smarter." To accomplish this "modest proposal" will require unplugging families in order that they can enjoy nature together. The author suggests keeping these outings simple, positive, and flexible. He addresses a few of the common hindrances which are usually cited as reasons to spend as little time as possible in the natural world. Then with great élan and creativity, Christopher shares a broad crosscut of activities and ideas to make the most of explorations in your own backyard, on the trail, in the meadow, at the shore, whatever the weather, and with your eyes on the skies.
He hopes that this resource will inspire parents to "get outside with your child, simply to enjoy the wonder of it all. Chasing fireflies, catching snowflakes, picking berries, puffing dandelions these may seem like little things today, but they'll stay with your child forever." Giving them positive experiences with nature also will open their hearts and minds to the challenges which lie ahead. As David Sobel has written: "If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it."