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The benefits of being nearer to nature

Unstructured outdoor play is important for a childs development

One of the main motivators for our move to a rural property was to be nearer to nature.

Spending time in nature is important to me and I especially want my daughter to experience the benefits of knowing nature.

Much of my childhood was spent roaming local bushland and beaches, building cubbies and riding my bike as far as my legs would take me. I'm guessing many past childhoods were similar to mine.

Climbing trees and spending the whole day outdoors exploring was a common experience only one or two generations ago.

Today, children are more likely to be indoors, busy with structured activities, or confined to the safety of their backyard.

Sadly this lack of unstructured outdoor play comes at a cost.

According to Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children. "A growing body of scientific evidence identifies strong correlations between experience in the natural world and children's ability to learn, along with their physical and emotional health. Stress levels, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, cognitive functioning - and more - are positively affected by time spent in nature," he says.

We connected with nature when we lived in the city, but it was something I had to schedule into our daily routine.

I tried to set aside a 'green hour' each day.

Todd Christopher, author of The Green Hour, suggests that the 'nature deficit disorder' that many children experience today can be alleviated simply by reclaiming a green hour a day for play and discovery in the natural world.

"A green hour is simply a time for families to unplug, unwind, and recharge as they reconnect to the natural world - and to each other".

Being nearer to nature is no longer something I have to schedule into our days.

Fungi of our little farm 1

Fungi of our little farm 3

Nature is at our back door - and nearer. I recently encountered a funnel web wandering under our outdoor dunny and a brown snake in our home, both on the same day.

Despite the fright caused by the snake and spider, I'm still pleased that nature is something that our family connects with each day.

Although I must admit, barefoot frolics through our little patch of bushland are a thing of the past for me now.

[Originally published in my column LESS IS MORE in the The Newcastle Herald Weekender Magazine 9th March 2013]