Jean Parnell explores how we need to develop a connection with the wild places
PHOTOGRAPHY: Casey Levie
FIND YOUR AWE The simplest benefit of natural learning and reconnecting with nature is letting ourselves be in awe of it. It’s not just children that are allowed to be amazed by how bees go about their work, or how the seasons change the landscape. It’s not childish to look at the world in a simpler
ALOT OF DISCUSSION HAS happened in recent years about our children’s connection with the earth and nature. Forest Schools have popped up all over the place and more and more schools have dedicated areas for children to grow food or observe wildlife. Slowly but surely we seem to be realising that something has been lost along the way and we’re trying to give our children that connection again.
way, at its most basic level (which is often incredibly intricate and beautiful), in fact that deeper understanding and appreciation for nature is what will hopefully inspire and drive us towards the next benefit, the feeling or responsibility. Connecting with nature, be it through growing our own food or going on long walks through the countryside
“The enjoyment of wandering through woodland talking with each other, it all works to strengthen
But what about us? How can we expect our children to feel connected and have a love of nature if we haven’t given ourselves the chance to also reconnect. This disconnection doesn’t exist only for our children, it’s been happening for generations, we are in need of nature just as much as them. Often the busyness of adult life can cause us to lose sight of feeling close to the earth.
not only our bond to nature but to our children”
Joseph Cornell talks about sharing our inner self with our children to feed their joy in nature and to help inspire them, but I believe it can go far beyond that and help us in ways we perhaps didn’t imagine. Not just gaining a deeper understanding and respect for nature, but we often gain a stronger feeling of responsibility towards the planet and the environment, our mental health can be improved and we can foster stronger relationships with our children.
will often help us gain an awareness of issues that perhaps we previously felt removed from. Suddenly after picking fresh kale from the garden we can truly connect with how much plastic food from the supermarkets is wrapped in, and those long walks might have litter scattered along them that is going uncollected. Once we make a personal connection to these issues we often find it easier to make changes towards protecting our environment on a local and global scale. Often it’s the children that notice these things more than adults, sadly many of us have almost become numb to issues that we feel we can’t do much to help with. Only when it’s a passionate nine year old demanding we collect litter or reduce our plastic waste do we feel that fire to get more involved.
GIVING BACK Spending time outdoors, whether it’s a fresh walk by the sea on our own or pottering around in the garden with the kids can help when we’re feeling stressed. GP’s in the UK are now prescribing spending time outside for their patients! There are countless benefits to being outside (vitamin D, fresh air, natural light to name just a few) so it’s pretty obvious that reconnecting with nature is a great way of boosting our mental
FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019 www.thegreenparent.co.uk