Register Now: Illumining and Strengthening the Work of Bahá’í Writers (Bahá’í Publishing Trust, Weekend Seminar, May 21 & 22)
Articles

Get Your Children into Nature!

May 1, 2022

The country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies.

 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, quoted in J. E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, Chapter. 3, p. 35

by Christine Muller

The value of children spending time in nature cannot be overestimated. At first, we may just think about the benefits of physical exercise and fresh air for children’s health, but there is so much more to it! It is essential for children’s overall healthy development–physical, cognitive, social, and spiritual. It allows them to experience oneness with creation, with all living things including other humans. Connection to nature is also associated with feelings of happiness.

The consciousness of being part of nature is a strong motivating force to protect it. People growing up with love for a certain place–be it a riverside, a meadow, or a forest–will want to protect it from development or restore it if damaged by economic activities or natural disaster. People with a strong sense of interconnectedness with plants and animals will also more likely lead environmentally responsible lives and support environmental actions by the community and the government.

Some practical ideas:

·      Regular visits to a precious natural place facilitate the development of a “sense of place,” and of connecting with the plants and animals living there.

·      Meaningful activities in nature can actively promote nature connectedness, for example observing a specific animal for longer periods of time, sitting quietly and listening to nature sounds, or walking in a pond.

·      A playground provides many benefits such as joy, physical exercise, and social interaction, but often contributes little to nature connection. However it can be beneficial if children spot a beautiful insect or bird–especially if they have already developed an interest in observing wildlife.

·      An interconnectedness with nature can be nurtured at all ages, but its development is much more likely in children up to about 11 years of age.

·      Free play in nature develops not only love for nature, but also creativity and confidence in children. Walks and hikes with family and friends also strengthen social ties.

·      Planting a garden and attending to it is another tool that fosters love for nature.

·      A city park or a balcony with potted plants can be alternatives if there is no close access to nature.

It is the responsibility of society and the government to create access to nature for all children and it is the responsibility of parents to help their children take a break from screens and to play outdoors. Children deserve to experience nature every day!

member-img

Christine Muller, Piano Teacher

Board Secretary, International Environment Forum

I was interested in environmental issues already at a young age and became a Bahá’í when I was 17, which was the beginning of a life-long study of the Bahá’í Faith. As the environmental crisis was worsening, I began to systematically study climate change at a time when not much information was easily available. I also searched the Bahá’í teachings for a spiritual solution to the climate crisis. At that time, climate change was not known to most people and there were no educational materials available. That’s why I wrote Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change – an Interfaith Study Course, which the International Environment Forum posted in 2009. I joined the Wilmette Institute as support faculty for its Sustainable Development course in 2011 and created its Climate Change course the following year. I served on the board of RI Interfaith Power&Light for nine years and currently serve on the board of the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum (iefworld.org). My academic background is in music and I enjoy part-time piano teaching and playing music. I would have done more in the area of music were it not for the urgency of climate action, but my musical training has helped me to better understand the complexity of the climate crisis. Christine’s articles on BahaiTeachings.orgSee Faculty Bio

Up Next...