A few years ago I attended an event that hosted a very inspirational lady named Ann Pelo, who wrote the book ‘Nurturing Ecological Identity’.
When Ann moved to Seattle she felt a disconnect to her surroundings and she didn’t enjoy where she lived as it was so different to her previous home.
Accordingly, she decided to become a Nanny to a little girl. She saw Seattle through this child’s eyes. They went on hikes together to beautiful places and she learned to marvel at a colony of ants as they marched along cracks in the sidewalks as well as at the big things like a wonderful view. She allowed this little girl to stop and marvel at the things that she saw as much as she wanted.
The result of this was that she ended up connecting with Seattle at last and as soon as she did she, she felt a wonderful sense of belonging and understanding of her environment that was so marvellous.
This is what I want for all of our children. They don’t even need masses of green space, for many children developing an ecological identity can be done through the sidewalk at the front of the house or with a plant pot that they use to grow things in.
With so much worrying news about the environment that we hear daily, it is believed that our children won’t want to look after a World that they already believe is failing. We have to teach them to love their environment so that they want to protect it.
Have you noticed how much scaremongering there is on weather stations now? It isn’t just snow or a cold snap anymore, it’s called a polar vortex. The storms are given names. It makes for good copy.
There is that old Alfred Wainwright quotation, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’. This is how I see it also. In winter, a good snow suit will see our children through, in spring some splash pants will do the trick and in summer some sunscreen and a wide brim hat will do it.
The outdoor environment is so important on many levels. Children require the physical exercise they can get outside – the chance to run and yell and use gross motor skills. They need to connect to their environment and understand their locality. Natural daylight is necessary for a young person’s eyes to develop properly.
I promise to take the children outside daily – as often as possible throughout the day – come rain or shine, unless there is a weather warning in effect.
I have a large garden to the rear of my property that the children are welcome to trample on as often as they like! There are garden beds and pots for us to plant and plenty of worms to admire!
I live near to two parks that we can walk to. I own a large four seater stroller for those children whose legs won’t want to walk all of the way.
To aid the development of an ecological identity, I invite children into a World without walls, where they have more freedom to explore and where they are more likely to develop compassion and self regulation skills as well as emotional intelligence.
Have you ever notice how much less the word ‘no’ is used when outdoors?