Nature, A Safe Haven From Technology

In the past I’ve written on the amount of screen time young children get and in Growing with Nature: Supporting Whole-Child Learning in Outdoor Classrooms, […]

In the past I’ve written on the amount of screen time young children get and in Growing with Nature: Supporting Whole-Child Learning in Outdoor Classrooms, Christine Kiewra, Tina Reeble and Nancy Rosenow have another take on it.  They write that “technology is a great connector, but it can also demand that we be instantly available to each other, no matter what. And while it is wonderful to be able to turn on the television and ‘see’ each other all over the world in real time, this often means our children are bombarded with horrific images of war or natural disasters right in their own homes. Where is the ‘safe haven’ for our children these days?”

Their answer for educators is a nature-filled outdoor classroom can provide that safe haven, and I would add that the answer can be in your own backyard, or any outdoor place “away from televisions, video games, smart phones, and computers for a brief time each day, (where) the world can slow down and everyone can breathe easier.”  The authors continue to explain that these areas are where “children can be children, adults can smile more, and discoveries can unfold slowly, with no expectation of ‘finding the one right answer.’”

How lucky we are to live in a place where nature-filled safe havens exist, our own backyards for one. Beyond home, Redwood City has many wonderful parks where parents and children can slow down a bit and breathe fresh air.  While we’re waiting for Redwood City’s Magical Bridge Playground, how about a ride to Palo Alto and explore?

Have you visited Filoli? They are celebrating their Centennial, and this year focusing on the gardens.  Don’t miss the daffodils in profusion, or the lilac and wisteria! There are large grass areas where children can run, and docent-led tours.

Ardenwood Historic Farm is just over the Dumbarton Bridge in Fremont. It is a working farm so daily activities change from season to season, and a great place to visit with the entire family. Your children will love riding the train around the property, adults can stroll through the Patterson House to take a step back to the past.  Stop and see the sheep, pigs, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, goats and cows too!

San Francisco Botanical Garden, inside Golden Gate Park, is a wonderful place to go. Visitors can easily spend hours perusing the numerous plant collections that include everything from a Redwood grove and fragrance garden to succulent and high-altitude plant collections.  The park itself is a great place to play, rest, and rejuvenate.

Lastly, don’t forget just over the hill are Half Moon Bay beaches, and the beach is fun no matter what the weather!

In Talking to God, Naomi Levy has a beautiful prayer for the wonders of nature:

Thank You, God, for the sand and the stars, for the oceans and the mountains,

for all the living creatures whose spirits are somehow connected to my own.

Thank You for the forests and the flowers, for the fertile soil and the power to grow.

Thank You for life’s rhythms, the seasons and the phases of the moon,

for the sky above me, and the souls within me.

Thank You, God, for placing me in a world so vast and majestic.

Everywhere I turn I see a sign that leads me straight to You.  Amen.