Parents around the World Agree that Nature is Important

May 15, 2014

triangle land conservancy

The Nature Conservancy has teamed up with Disney to disseminate a global survey to parents asking about the importance of nature to kids around the world. The results and the reality are surprising.

What’s not surprising is the level of importance parents place on nature for their kids. 82% see “spending time in nature as ‘very important’ to their children’s development – second only to reading as a priority.” 83% of the respondents also felt that “time in nature leads to better focus in the classroom” and another 65% believe “it is a ‘very serious’ problem that kids are not spending more time outdoors.” This concern equals that of bullying, education quality, and obesity, and thus is no small statistic!

All this is encouraging. Yet, if parents believe nature is so important to their children’s growth and development, why are kids not getting outside? Why do Richard Louv and his colleagues believe an entire generation is growing up with “nature deficit disorder?”

The survey also provides insights as to why kids aren’t spending enough time outside. In the United States, homework is the number one obstacle to spending time in nature, and number two is discomfort in the outdoors. This statistic is further supported with another: 72% of American children “rarely – or never! – go beyond their backyard to a state or a national park.”

While the numbers may seem daunting, there is a silver lining. While it is unlikely that the American homework regime will change anytime soon, parents, friends, siblings, educators, and community groups can overcome kids’ discomfort with being outdoors by taking them past their own backyards to farms, state parks, nature preserves, and other outdoor green spaces.

TLC is committed to providing outdoor opportunities for children through its field trip programs, summer camps, and through educational experiences at Transplanting Traditions on our Irvin Nature Preserve just outside Chapel Hill. If you want some ideas for activities around the Triangle, check out our Three or Four Hours in the Triangle blog posts, found here. TLC also has guided hikes and volunteer days, which can be found here or on our Facebook page.

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