Learn how can we help children keep away from the lure of technology and experience Nature in meaningful ways.
“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”
– A fourth grader
“Our children are part of a truly vast experiment—the first generation to be raised without meaningful contact with the natural world.”
– Bill McKibben
Parenting can be rewarding or it can be testing. When a child is glued to a screen, tapping away while his or her attention is needed elsewhere, parenting is definitely a test. Many of us consider pervasiveness of technology in a child’s life as part and parcel of being a parent in this age – we resign to it. Others opt for force and try to enforce discipline. But punishment has a dirty little secret – it doesn’t work.
Martha Erickson, a developmental psychologist at University of Minnesota says, “unplugging from electronics and taking the child into a park or a nature trail creates an opportunity for ‘affective sharing’ – oohing and aahing together over the sun shining through the leaves of a big tree, feeling the bark and the soft moss on a tree trunk, listening to sounds of birds or squirrels, feeling a soft spring rain on your face.”
If parents employ Sharing Nature’s immersive games and activities, they can take affective sharing to a whole new level. But it will only work if they themselves have genuine appreciation and wonder for Nature. A sense of oneness and respect for Nature is not something one can instil in another if one does not have it oneself. Sharing Nature Experience can help. The benefits of the experience are the same for parents as they are for everyone.
Improve Relationship With Your Child or Loved One
In his book Deep Nature Play, Joseph Cornell describes how a simple sensory awareness game allowed his friend to help her 73-year-old grandmother ailing from Alzheimer’s disease find relief for the first time in several years. Because Sharing Nature games are fun and engaging, they provide an opportunity to improve strained relationships between parent-child and between loved ones. Once you’re able to overcome initial reluctance on your part on part of the person you wish to involve, both parties will discover creation of a joyful new bond as they engage in play.
Find Yourself Rejuvenated and Inspired
There is now overwhelming research to show that spending time in Nature brings physiological and psychological benefits. A recent meta-study from University of East Anglia involving more than 290 million people, compared 140 past studies to state that spending time in Nature reduces the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth while also reducing blood pressure, heart rate and stress and increasing sleep duration.
Sharing Nature training, however, goes much further than just spending time in Nature, as it involves deep nature play. The key distinguishing factor is the quality and level of engagement that makes you feel one with Nature and brings out those positive emotional reactions. Leaving you with a deeply memorable experience that you can tap at any time just by closing your eyes and recalling it at will.
Discover Feelings You Didn’t Know Exist In You
Sharing Nature allows participants to emotionally bond with Nature. In various activities, a player sometimes acts out an animal, interviews a river, pretends to be part of a tree, and captures an image of a beautiful landscape through her inner lens – one she will remember for years. Other activities allow the player to reflect upon and express in writing some of the emotions she experienced.
Acting out in ways dictated not by logic but according to feelings, she finds that her inner child is not just acknowledged, but is encouraged. As the player experiences, acts out, reflects upon and shares these emotions – a previously unrecognised aspect of the individual finds expression for the first time and remains with her long after the training has culminated.
Have Fun, Touch Your Inner Child Through Play
If you’re like most adults, you’re probably play-deprived. In Deep Nature Play Joseph Cornell writes about how adults benefit from play:
Some adults feel that sensory awareness games are solely for children. I’ve been amused to see how parents, at the beginning of family programs, will gently push their children toward me, then themselves stand at the back, their arms folded across their chests. When I tell the parents that I need them to partner with their children to play a game, they are more than eager to help. Immediately, the adults are playing just as enthusiastically as the children. All of us, no matter our age, can benefit from joyful, living contact with the earth. Playful nature games help teens and adults experience life with a child’s natural exuberance, and reconnect us with the innocence and joy of our own childhoods.
Learn to Nurture Your Right Brain
While the left side of the brain views the world as separate, fragmented, in an abstract and narrow manner, the right side sees the interconnections, the holistic view, the big picture, and things laden with meaning. Where left brain is analytical, acquisitive, literal and detached; the right is engaged, empathetic, receptive, and intuitive. Control and manipulation is associated with the left while opening up to the possibilities is associated with the right brain.
As we describe in the section titled “The Shift”, human society and economy has been built on left brain skills but increasingly those skills are not sufficient for success and there is a clear societal trend towards right brain values. Sharing Nature activities can help you prepare for this new recognition by developing right brain qualities.
As the training emphasises emotions and generates a feeling of oneness with Nature, we naturally tend to gravitate from the fragmented towards the whole. All games and activities are non-competitive, and there is no analysis or study involved so left brain application is kept to the minimum. But there is a lot of beauty, sensory stimulation and a feeling of love and appreciation, all of which nurture the right brain aspects of player’s personality.
Discover a Completely New Way of Relating with Nature
We have all experienced Nature in various ways such as, hikes, walks, adventure activities and perhaps more. While all of these experiences can be enjoyable, the relationship they foster with Nature is one between observer and the object being observed. There is a clear separation between the two. At Sharing Nature we try to bridge this gap through play that makes the player become one with Nature.
“If you want to motivate people, first touch their hearts, because it is their feelings that will inspire their thoughts and behavior,”
– Legendary naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.
While in traditional activities such as river rafting Nature serves as a source of thrill and gives one a sense of exhilaration through a feeling of domination, Sharing Nature considers Nature as a living entity. Our activities focus on emotions or feelings of the participant. All tasks or challenges in our games are designed to help adults and children deepen their relationship with Nature through unique ways of emotionally connecting with Nature.
Enhance Learning, Make it Fun, Experiential and Memorable
Sharing Nature training offers inspired and joyful learning experiences that makes ecology—not just a concept—but a life-changing awareness. It gives parents inspiration as we explained above, as well as the tools and techniques to make learning fun, experiential and memorable. Many of the benefits to participants – such as impact on imagination and creativity, memory and cognition, increase in attention span and more – are described in section: Why Attend.
Our workshops will train participants in a teaching method that can be adapted to teach any subject using experiential learning. It is essentially a sequence of activities discovered by Sharing Nature founder Joseph Cornell that accelerates flow of inspiration.
This highly effective outdoor learning strategy called Flow Learning™, was featured by the U.S. National Park Service as one of five recommended learning theories, along with the work of Maria Montessori, Howard Gardner, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget. Flow Learning is described here in greater detail.
“Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade in, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hay fields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education.”
— Luther Burbank*
* Luther Burbank was an American Horticulturist credited to have developed the “Santa Rosa” plum, “Flaming Gold” nectarine and spineless cactus among over 800 varieties and strains of plants. These included 120 types of plums, 18 peaches, 28 apples, 500 hybrid roses, 30 cherries, 34 pears and 52 gladioli and more.