Tag Archives: nature

Discover the Best Nature Play Spaces near Washington, D.C.

Did you know elementary-aged kids have about half the core strength kids had only a decade ago? Overall creativity has also taken a hit. The way we use technology gives us more reasons than ever to sit down. Like us, kids don’t move around as much and have less free time to use their imaginations. What’s the solution for more healthy and durable young bodies and minds? Plenty of free play outdoors in the sunshine and breeze!

For year-round adventure, these amazing parks in the Washington, D.C. area don’t have swings, slides, or other typical playground equipment, but guarantee a healthy whole-child workout.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA is a gorgeous destination for the whole family whereamid hundreds of ornamental and native plants and the occasional nosy goosethere’s a garden just for kids, perfect for little ones to touch and smell the herbs and flowers, stow away in hidden spaces, and host imaginary tea parties.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale, VA features Nature Playce, a free-play utopia where kids use hay bales, sticks, and rounds of wood to build forts and castles they can knock right down when they are finished if they want to. Here, kids use all their muscle groups and build skills they can’t in the classroom.

Constitution Gardens Park in Gaithersburg, MD is a completely accessible urban hideaway with tons of sand, a water play area, and whimsical structures to climb, all made from local sycamore wood. Kids of all ages have plenty of space to explore and move to their own playtime agenda.

Where’s a nature play space where you live?

For more ideas on helping your whole family to be healthy and balanced, sign up for Durable Human News and read How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design.

This post was written by Jenifer Joy Madden, tech hygienist, digital journalism professor, and author of the practical handbook for living in harmony with technology: How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design.

Gifts That Help Kids To Be More Durable

Girl with backpack cycles to school

Digital devices can be so helpful and entertaining it’s easy to forget what they don’t do to help kids grow up to be self-reliant, durable adults. In fact, many tech-savvy school kids are doing strange things like losing their balance on chairs, bumping into other kids in the hallways, and bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. Occupational therapy researcher Angela Hanscom, author of Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children, also reports that core strength among children has plummeted. A big reason? They just don’t get enough rough and tumble.

These non-tech gifts supplement kids’ digital pursuits: Continue reading

Best Books To Help Parents With Tech Mentoring, Nature Guidance, and Self-Care

Parents want to raise well-rounded kids who are comfortable in their own skin and with navigating in the natural and digital worlds. These advice books help parents and other care-givers to achieve that goal or to care for themselves in the process.

screenwise-coverThe sensible guide to raising digital citizens we’ve all been waiting for, Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World finally gets how kids use technology and how parents can support their efforts.

Author Devorah Heitner is thoroughly respectful of both sides of the equation and never talks down to, judges, or belittles anyone. Her book is chock-full of practical use-‘em-now tips and she gently instructs and builds the confidence of kids’ first and best digital mentors: their parents. This book doesn’t just skim the surface, it gets gritty and granular, supplying the words and tools we all need.

Among Heitner’s most important points:

  • Choose mentoring your child over simply monitoring what they do online.
  • Have clear, consistent boundaries and explain them to your kids.
  • Pay attention when your kids need you, or as Heitner says, “Be here now.”  Why that’s absolutely crucial.

balanced-and-barefootAnother must-read, Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children supplements Screenwise by  Continue reading

How Nature Play Builds Balanced, Durable Kids

Girl balances in pop-up park

Could a soggy patch of dirt and some logs be better for kids to play on than sleek slides and swingsets? Absolutely, say some child development experts.

Angela Hanscom, for instance, is an occupational therapist who sees strange new symptoms among today’s kids. In her research and testing, Hanscom observes that more and more elementary-age children: Continue reading