At Issue: Kids, Parents and The Great Outdoors

boy-469264_640Ruth Lera could be any mom.  She describes herself in her 2012 article “Learning To Love The Natural World” for Today’s Parent as a “hodgepodge” and says that finding a place to pat herself on the back can be difficult.

Being a parent is wrought with not-so-proud moments, so when you recognize something you’ve done well it’s nothing short of inspiring.

Lera has made connecting with nature a priority and because of that her children have developed a love for it.  A respect for it.

Author Richard Louv is worried that not enough children are making connections with nature and fears that many children are suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder.  This is very concerning to the man who authored Last Child in the Woods and who believes that when childhood passes without any connection being made to nature during the formative years, the resulting deficit is a serious detriment to society’s wellbeing.

Louv has spent years researching, collecting anecdotal evidence and inspiring policy makers because he believes a connection with nature can boost mental acuity and creativity, promote health and wellness, and build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities and economies.

This week we will be discussing parenting and nature.  Catherine Ross, a mother of two and of the blog Learning is Fun will be our guest this week.

As always we welcome your comments and insights.  Join the conversation by leaving a comment or follow us and share via Facebook and Twitter!

Here are a few videos on the subject to get you inspired:


Where the Concrete Ends

010I’ve mentioned before that my kids go to an alternative public school.  It’s called Equinox, and offers a holistic education with an emphasis on environmental stewardship.  It’s a pioneering school, and established the first public outdoor kindergarten program in Canada.  It’s new and imperfect, but I love. this. school.

One huge imperfection is that our groundbreaking kindergarten is in desperate need of some literal groundbreaking.  The outdoor classroom space that we have been given is a concrete jungle.  The teachers have done an amazing job in spite of the concrete, but with a full-day kindergarten program coming to Equinox in less than four months, the barren space is even more inadequate than before.

Knowing this, a group of parents have galvanized themselves into a veritable force of advocacy!  The Equinox Outdoor Kindergarten committee is launching an ambitious fundraising campaign this morning on indiegogo, an international crowdfunding website.  The way it works:  we spread the word about the campaign, and then donors contribute in return for great perks!  Our goal is to raise a small but meaningful portion of the project to get started and to demonstrate to potential funders that we have significant support for the project within our school community and beyond. Then we’ll be able to leverage the money the cover the full cost of the outdoor kindergarten – much better than the best dollar matching program anywhere!

Preparing the campaign has required tremendous effort from so many people and can only be described as a labour of love.  Hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours have already gone into it (we have an amazing video to tell you about it!), and we are just starting!  The completed outdoor classroom may not be ready in time for many of the committee member’s children to enjoy, and our scriptwriter has no personal connection to kindergarten at all – but we all worked on the campaign anyway.  What we all share is the belief that environmental education needs to be put on the map for the future of all children, and an outdoor kindergarten is a beautiful inroad to that goal.

We finally have a real chance to make it happen, and with full-day kindergarten around the corner, we need to act now!  Please help if you can – the sooner we have the funds, the sooner we can create a true outdoor classroom and promote environmental education for everyone.

Donate now and help us spread the word!  The kindergarteners and I thank you with all our hearts!