The memoir-style book, There Is No Such Things As Bad Weather, had me hooked right from the first page. It is evident that author, Linda Akeson-McGurk knows how to write. She seamlessly integrates current research and statistics into a light and lively read. She makes it entertaining to learn about the pitfalls of standardized testing or the health benefits of playing in the dirt. After reading this book, if you are anything like me, you will be getting your kids out in nature, rain or shine. And be determined to foster their love of the great outdoors.
I admit I am one to whinge about the weather. I struggle to embrace the frigid Canadian winters that I grew up with. Equally, I wish away the heat waves in Australian summers that I now experience. So the title of this book instantly grabbed my attention. I could use some convincing that there is no such thing as bad weather, only wrong clothes, as the Scandinavian saying goes. It seemed fitting that I read this book the month before my little family embarked on a six-month camping and caravanning trip around Australia.
My sons are obsessed with the outdoors. Aren't all kids? When they were very young, I often found them pointing at the door, saying, outside? If they are fussy or grumpy, all I have to do is open the door and instantly, they are calm and endlessly entertained.
Being in nature is a biological need and there is growing research to support this. Watching my sons’ shift in mood when inside versus outdoors is the clearest example I have seen. It is instinctual. Babies and young children innately feel at home in nature. Yet, in our society, we slowly train this connection out of us as we get older by spending much of our time inside. We create lives separate from nature. But we are nature. We need nature. This book is a great reminder of this. It provides ways to integrate more play and fresh air into our lives, particularly for our children.
Swedish-born Akeson-McGurk documents her journey of creating a nature-filled childhood for her two daughters. It begins in a small town in Indiana. There she finds it troubling that children are not playing outside anymore and preschoolers are already facing considerable academic pressure. This leads to a six-month trip to her homeland. There she immerses herself and her daughters in nature-focused, free-range parenting that is in stark contrast to what they left behind in Indiana.
Akeson-McGurk seamlessly weaves research on the benefits of nature to us physically, psychologically, academically and as a community throughout the book. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of connecting with nature. You will have a thorough understanding of the answers to the following questions after reading this book.
Why is fresh air good for our physical and psychological health?
How essential is play, particularly unstructured outdoor play, for development?
How has our obsession with cleanliness contributed to the rise in immunological disorders? Why are freedom and risk taking necessary for building kids into responsible and capable adults?
What are the issues with too much screen time?
How can we develop a community of like-minded people to help create an outdoorsy culture for our kids?
Does a childhood immersed in nature instills lifelong environmental and sustainability beliefs?
Each chapter ends with a Scandinavian Parenting Tip. These help the reader to incorporate the ideas into their parenting in daily life. It also has suggested readings should you want to explore the chapter’s topic further.
This book is an easy yet important read that I would recommend to all parents or anyone who works with children. It highlights many aspects of how current American parenting and educational practices are failing our kids. These are similar in Canada and Australia. The rest of us could definitely incorporate many of the Swedish ways to create healthier, more resilient and confident kids.
After reading this book, I have been researching forest schools and ensuring my son gets as much outdoor time each day as possible. I am also trying to embrace the weather even if it is -30 degrees Celsius during Canadian winter or +40 degrees in Australian summers. There’s always a snowman to build or a beach to escape to, right?
Pick up a copy of There Is No Such Thing As Bad Weather here.
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