Instill a Love of Nature in Children

Instill a Love of Nature in Children
Some of my earliest memories are of the Texas outdoors.

In Midland, my first playgrounds were vacant lots covered with mesquite trees. In the summers, I would travel west, to visit my grandparents on the outskirts of El Paso, gazing out upon the Rio Grande River and the Franklin Mountains, surrounded by the searing desert light and heat, or take family trips to swim at Balmorhea or to the Gulf of Mexico at Galveston.

But increasingly today, the Texas outdoors is being lost to our children.

Nature and the natural world are like a foreign language to many of today's kids, in Texas and around the nation. An elementary school child now spends less time outdoors than any generation in human history — 50 percent less time than kids did just 20 years ago. Time outside has been replaced by time indoors, and roughly six hours of each day is devoted to various forms of electronic media, such as televisions, computers or video game consoles. In fact, kids today are six times more likely to play a video game than to ride a bike.

Along with this vastly diminished time outdoors, researchers have noticed other serious changes in the lives and minds of our children. In some areas, academic achievement is stagnating or falling, while increasing numbers of children are less able to engage in vigorous or cooperative play, and learning challenges such as Attention Deficit Disorder are rising.

Yet we know that time spent…
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