Parents today are facing a huge challenge. There has been a paradigm shift in how children socialize, learn and spend their free time. In short, childhood has become disconnected from the natural world and endlessly connected to the digital world.
If your children spend more time playing video games, scrolling though TikTok or tuned into Youtube than you ever imagined, you're not alone. Most kids are. Truth is that there have been extremely powerful and pervasive forces working against a pure and natural childhood, even despite parents' best efforts. Tech companies engineer games and apps to lure children in and get lost in a virtual world. During Covid lockdown, that virtual world became even more present and "real." The battle became even more uphill than ever.
Add to the social omnipresence of the digital world in a child's life that school, the place where they spend most of their time, have prioritized a focus on ratings and standardized test scores over the benefits to the whole child, often eliminating recess or free play altogether.
As parents, of course, we share some of the blame, whether we are buying our kids smartphones so they don’t feel left out of social groups or packing our children’s schedules so they are not lagging in special skills or extracurriculars. We understand the feeling of panic you might have when you compare your child to their peers or realize your child is thousands of hours behind mastering a skill.
The result of where we are in modern culture is that our children are increasingly sedentary, unaware of the natural world and distracted. Today, kids spend an average of seven hours in front of a screen each day and less time outside than ever before. This trend has led to alarming obesity rates, rises in risks for non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and declines in mental health.
The good news is that part of the solution to many of these problems is literally just outside the door... Nature.
That's why we built this site. Childhood by Nature was designed to be a resource to help parents and caregivers return childhood back to nature. Our ideas and writing are based on peer-reviewed studies, news pieces, and ideas from a growing community of nature-seeking parents and caregivers. We hope to offer tips, ideas, information, and activities that can fit into modern-day family life, creating young naturalists along the way, or just sparking a curiosity for the natural world that will last a lifetime. We hope you find it useful as you join us on our mission of reuniting children with nature.
Childhood by Nature was founded by Jenette Restivo. Jenette is a writer, editor, naturalist, and, most importantly, a mother, who knows the struggle of raising nature-connected children in a digital world. With deep reverence for the natural world, she has been on a mission to help children fall in love with nature.
Jenette brings 20 years of professional communication and writing skills, passion for nature, and experience as a mom to Childhood by Nature. She has worked as a writer and producer for outlets including Health.com, ABC, CBS, National Geographic, PBS, History Channel, and Discovery Channel. She has led communications efforts for several nonprofits, most recently as a Content Strategist for the Children & Nature Network, where she worked closely and was deeply inspired by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.
Jenette also contributes her time to the Endangered Species Coalition and the Gifford Cat Shelter. She has authored four titles including 15 Weeks of Nature, Mammals for the Young Naturalist, Birds for the Young Naturalist., as well as her latest book, The Nature for Toddlers Activity Book.
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Our ever-expanding Learning Center brings together key resources such as nature-based educator trainings and nature-based curriculum, to help get your kid's childhood back to Nature before it's too late.
Our Activity Finder is designed to bring you tested, practical ideas to your family. Because chasing fireflies, making mud pies, and building forts are really the essential elements of childhood.