Are our kids overstimulated?

Last year we attended an interesting conference on nature education. The keynote speaker Richard Louv discussed the problem of ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’. The premise of this is that our children are deprived of meaningful and lasting contact with nature and it is impacting on their lives in profound ways. With both school and home time dominated by many busy and varied tasks often using electronics, when do kids get out into the bush, build treehouses and catch tadpoles? Of course many of our committed and excellent teachers provide nature experiences for their students and this helps, but we are often forced to create meaningful learning experiences and curriculum links. Do we just need unstructured time to ‘be’ in nature?

We had an interesting discussion here amongst staff after the success of our Earthkeepers program. One of the most popular activities amongst the students was the 45 minutes of quiet time alone in the bush called the ‘magic spot’ activity. Students returned to their magic spot each day to be quiet and alone with nature. It was intriguing for us to witness the discoveries that this brought to different students. Some of the students were absorbed with birds, building small villages out of sticks and stones and writing in their diaries. others just sat still and quietly, enjoying the bush.

What are your thoughts on the need for quiet time in nature. Do we all need some down time to just ‘Be’? Do we need to teach our kids to be still sometimes!? Please post thoughts and comments. I have posted student responses from the camp below – very interesting reading. I have highlighted all the magic spot comments

What was the best part of Earthkeeper’s camp?

Toby – playing spotlight with all my friends.

Jermaine – The best part about Earthkeeper’s camp is the key ceremony and magic spot and the game show and more.

Kade – I think the best bit was sleeping in the cabins.

Molly – Going to my magic spot, getting the keys and having the campfire. When we were at the campfire I saw two shooting stars and one was green. I liked getting the keys because I knew I was closer to becoming an Earthkeeper. I liked the magic spot because it was calm and peaceful. The animals were so fun. All of it.

Pelin – The best part of camp was the camp fire and marshmallows and the spotlight. We saw nothing but it was still fun in the dark with our teachers. It was late. It was so much fun.

Lukas – The best part about camp was when we had the key ceremony and the game show at the end. I also liked my magic spot.

Megan – I think the best part of Earthkeepers Camp was when we went up to the pond to catch tadpoles. We used sieves taped to long wooden poles.

Abigail – I liked where we got to sit in our magic spot for 45 minutes and write in our diaries why we listen to the bush. I also liked the camp fire with marshmallows and singing. I liked all the food very much. I liked the activity where we partnered up and got blindfolds and put our hands in bags.

Charlotte – I thought the best part was the magic spot and the camp fires because for the magic spot you got to go into the bush and observe all the trees and animals. For the camp fire it was just lovely listening to the sound of the wind and all the animals climbing up those huge trees.

Simon – The best thing I did was sleeping in the cabin.

Mimi – I think one of the best parts was being able to hold a baby crocodile and also holding a python. I was really scared about holding them but I really enjoyed it too. Another one of my favourites was just being with my friends.

Isaac – My magic spot was my favourite thing at Earthkeepers camp. I got a badge for making the most comfortable lounge. I also loved hugging the crocodile because they’re my favourite animal.

Olivia – Collecting keys and opening boxes. Going to my magic spot. Doing bug fishing and seeing what lives in the pond. Tom came and let us touch all the animals.

Riley – I liked all of it.

Paris – I think the best part was when we went into E.M.’s lab. I was very interested and I also liked the magic spot and the sign off.

Bobby – It was getting into the cabins and being with all my friends.

Jeremiah – Our magic spot was the best because we saw a bower bird and I was right next to the nest and we listened to the beautiful nature.

Joel – Seeing the diprotodont foot and learning about it and also holding the crocodile and the snake.

Nils – Doing the speck dissector and catching tadpoles.

Josie – The games night because I liked when people dressed up it was funny.

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