Dawn Green – Writer

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Never a dull moment

 

credit-wayne-s-grazio

Credit: Wayne S. Grazio, Flickr

The moaning cries of, “Mum, Dad… I’m bored!” are rarely, if ever, uttered by kids in Whistler. Why is that, you ask? Well, it can be broken down to one word, F-U-N. For kids, Whistler is an ultimate playground, bursting with opportunities for nature play and sensory amusement.

One memorable way to spend a day in classic Whistler-style is to get the kids on bikes on the 40-kilometre Whistler Valley trail system that links all the neighbourhoods in town. The best way to experience the trail is to pack a picnic lunch and head off with no set plan, and be pleasantly surprised by what lies around the corner. Alta Lake sparkles in the sun and invites sand castle building contests at Rainbow Park and the ice cream cone at Whistler Creekside to top off the day is completely satisfying.

The Adventure Group (TAG) offers up a fantastic nature experience on their aerial tree course (aptly called The Treetop Adventure) that features a mind boggling 70 different obstacles from balance beams to rope swings. This is a natural team building adventure and a great experience to share with family.

And why not try out the art of ziplining while you’re in Whistler? Ziptrek’s Bear Tour involves zipping down five ziplines, all the while enjoying aerial vistas above Fitzsimmons Creek and laughing with your kids. And if you’re not quite ready for ziplining, there’s the Tree Trek Tour which takes you on a canopy walk over treetop bridges and suspended stairways in amongst the lush old-growth forest.

The Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre is also a must-see for families where interactive displays and guided tours tell the rich stories of the First Nations people of the region.

Even long after you’ve left town, be warned: a phrase that you are guaranteed to hear often and repeatedly from your kids will start off with, “Remember that time in Whistler when we…”

 

~This is an excerpt from an article published in The Province and the Vancouver Sun in August 2016


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Why ecological literacy is important for kids

I am delighted to feature another fabulous guest post from Ella Andrews – this one tells us how essential it is for our children to understand build a relationship with nature.

Why ecological literacy is important for kids3

Mother Nature is very important for our future. A major part of our future are our kids. We must teach them ecological literacy so as to make them learn how important it is to take care of the environment. Being introduced to nature from when they are little children will help develop in them a deep love and solicitude for their surrounding environment.

While young, kids explore and discover a lot of new things. We can help them expand their knowledge by showing them outdoor activities. The best way is if we have a garden on our property or take them to any of the nearest parks. Once we find a suitable place to play with our kids, we must do some preparations first. Playing outside may be dangerous so we have to do some efficient garden clearance first. Kids will be happy to see how plants smell and how the bees are alighting on them so take them on a trip in a garden that has lots of different flowers.

Once our kids see the beauty of nature, it is almost certain that they will turn into an adult who appreciates the small things and will take care of the natural world. Ecological literacy is important for our kids because if we lose nature, we will be lost too. Each living creature on the planet can’t survive without water and food and this is something that our kids must learn from childhood. Teaching them to take care and respect nature is maybe one of the most important lessons we have to teach them.

Planting some flowers will be very interesting to them, with this you can show them how to take care of something. After some time they will see the growth of their flowers and you will be surprised how satisfied they will be.

Another interesting thing for your kids will be for them to meet a gardener. A gardening professional will help you with not only the lawn care but also may help you with ecological education for your children.

Meeting with nature face-to-face, kids can see the different elements of our surrounding environment working together. Even doing some patio cleaning will show them how to take care of the world around them.

A good ecological literacy is something that is a must for every person in the world. As youngsters, we start understanding the importance of taking care of nature, and we can call ourselves decent people who know what is important for our health in the future. Many schools have classes that show the kids how to take care of nature. All the books and videos won’t educate kids on ecological literacy as much as looking at their parents doing some gardening outdoors and spending time playing in nature.

 


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Screen-time versus nature-time

There’s a sad trend unfolding in households all around us – while many of us adults can remember vividly the hustle and bustle of neighbourhood games on the street before shouts from mums came floating over kids’ laughter, announcing it was dinnertime, today this can often be a dramatically different scene. The streets instead are empty and silent. Where are the kids? They are indoors, hunched over their various technology, engrossed in screen-time.

Photo by Paul Rogers

Photo by Paul Rogers

Addiction to screens is certainly not a new concept but the research continues to pile up and should not be ignored. Evidence backing its nasty side-effects all point to the fact that too much screen-time can be detrimental to your health on many levels.

It’s gotten so bad in places like China that doctors there now consider screen addiction to be a clinical disorder. The documentary “Web Junkie,”  illustrates the tragic effects on teens who become utterly addicted to video games, playing non-stop for dozens of hours at a time. Many come to view the real world as fake.

As a result, special rehab centres in China have been established where affected teens are confined for months at a time, completely isolated from all media.

Internet addiction. Source: YouTube

Internet addiction. Source: YouTube

While this may seem to be an extreme measure, there’s no denying that youth all over the world are similarly affected by Internet addiction, where they are plugged in for far more hours of the day than experts consider health for normal development.

The American Academy of Paediatrics advises for children under two years to have no exposure to electronic media.

“A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens,” the Academy said in its policy statement.

It also recommends that teenagers should spend no more than two hours a day looking at screens.

Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, agrees.

“We’re throwing screens at children all day long, giving them distractions rather than teaching them how to self-soothe, to calm themselves down,” she said.

“Kids need time to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share them with parents, who can provide reassurance.”

Ms Steiner-Adair added that parents must act before their kids get an unrealistic take on reality.

“Children have to know that life is fine off the screen,” she said.

“It’s interesting and good to be curious about other people, to learn how to listen. It teaches them social and emotional intelligence, which is critical for success in life.”

My gut feeling is that as this information becomes more and more mainstream, parents will react and do their best to help their kids by limiting their screen time despite the lure of using TV as an ‘electronic babysitter.’

Only time will tell but it is my greatest hope that instead, kids will get used to getting home from school and getting shooed out the back door to play outdoors before dinner, just like we did when we were their age. And that’s when nature-time as opposed to screen-time will develop into a far greater influence in their lives and time tumbling in the sand and climbing up limbs of trees will create long lasting positive effects in their lives.

So I’m backing nature-time over screen-time.

What do you think?

Imagination Grove. Source: www.slate.com

Imagination Grove. Source: http://www.slate.com