One of the most important things at Agora International School Andorra is contact with nature and we have found many reasons to connect it with summer
Did you know that in some countries around the world doctors prescribe nature walks to treat certain conditions such as anxiety, depression or stress? This is the case in Japan where this practice is known as ‘shirin yoku’ or ‘forest bathing’. A millenary technique that advocates giving a chance to the benefits of the connection between human beings and nature to heal and improve our physical, psychological and emotional state.
If there are many countries in the world that do not hesitate to bet on it in adulthood, how many benefits will it not bring to children? They are intimately linked to nature and everything that surrounds them. It is enough to see how they enjoy the puddles, the rain or the small animals that we find on our walks to realise how much they need the green environment.
However, we live in a society of haste and routine. In a society in which any hint of free time should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. In a society in which we burden our children with chores and timetables and in which there are hardly any hours left to enjoy everything that surrounds us and that Mother Nature gives us.
And yet, more than a few scientific studies have proven the benefits of connecting children to the natural environment.
We’re in the middle of the summer holidays and we’re sure you’re enjoying a few days’ rest with the family. That’s why at Agora International School Andorra we believe that this is a special time to reconnect children with nature. The benefits are more than proven and, perhaps, if we start by going for walks in the summer, we can continue the routine for the rest of the school calendar and, in this way, avoid the well-known ‘Nature deficit’.
Deficit syndrome by nature, a proven fact
This term was created in 2005 by Richard Louv in his book ‘The Last Children of the Forest’, although it is not a medical diagnosis. “It is not yet included in any medical or psychology manual as such, but it refers to a set of symptoms that have their origin in the poor relationship or contact with the environment or nature”, explained here Monica Gonzalo, child psychotherapist at Psicólogos Pozuelo.
A syndrome triggered by the great benefits that nature provides in children’s health and that the poor relationship with it can trigger.
Vitamin D, necessary for everything
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, vitamin D is responsible for helping the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus, which are necessary for bone growth. However, the same source claims that children currently do not receive optimal levels of this vitamin, not least because they do not spend enough time outdoors.
The main source of vitamin D is the sun (15 minutes of sunshine a day is enough to stay healthy). Therefore, this would be one of the most important reasons why being in contact with nature in summer is a good option.
However, children should be well protected from the sun’s rays.
Nature improves children’s microbiota
A group of researchers at the University of Helsinki recently discovered that spending time in nature helps to strengthen the immune system of young children. In particular, they found that children who spent time playing in green spaces maintained a healthier skin and gut microbiota. “Exposure to a natural environment rich in biodiversity may reduce the global epidemic of immune-mediated diseases,” said one of the study’s authors.
Climate change, a threat that must be combated
Last but not least, there is the threat of climate change. We know that it will affect future generations, starting with the children who have already arrived in the world. And we also know that one of the best weapons to combat it is undoubtedly education.
Although climate change cannot be reversed, we can drastically reduce its consequences by teaching children to respect the world around them and explaining why they should do so. The best demonstration? Reconnecting them with nature, by taking walks in a park, in a forest, spending a few days on a farm, on a campsite or even by the sea.
Children need to know why it is important to keep everything green.
But we also need to connect them with nature at home. How? By setting an example on how to take care of the environment: recycling, reusing, not wasting and not consuming what is not necessary.
And summer is the perfect time to start the change.