Grandparenting in Nature

Being outside in nature is good for you. More and more research is revealing that nature experiences are therapeutic for everyone but especially for children and the older generation. According to Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, children who spend time outside exploring or simply playing show reduced symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder, are more creative, learn more easily, and are physically and emotionally healthier. In his article, “Connect Your Grandkids to Nature, “ Louv points out that “a growing body of evidence also links healthy aging to outdoor experiences…” Time spent outdoors enhances joy and decreases loneliness.

Nature Walkers sees a great opportunity here – grandparents and grandchildren together in nature. We know that grandparents and grandchildren are good for each other, and we know that being in nature is good for all of us. According to the Sierra Club article “Exploring Nature with Your Grandkids,” it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Just go outside and explore – “learn something new and exciting together.”

In this section of our website, Nature Walkers hopes to offer books to read, articles to research, activities to do, and events that might bring grandparents and grandchildren together in nature.

Many grandparents today grew up in the early 40”s or 50’s. It was a time when most moms were still at home and there was no need for child care. There were no scheduled “play dates,” and few after school activities. Kids spent a lot of time outdoors playing with friends in their neighborhoods.
Summers meant being outside from dawn to dusk – making forts, riding bikes, climbing trees, skating, picking wild flower bouquets for moms, and playing endless rounds of hide and seek. There was always a snack or a cool glass of lemonade at someone’s house.

Contrast that with today. Kids spend less and less time outside and more and more time inside playing video games and following all sorts of social media. Cell phones are ever present – inside and out. There is very little time for those wonderful, unstructured days outside that we grandparents fondly remember. During the pandemic our grandchildren have spent even more hours indoors on Zoom for school. Such a disconnect from nature has been referred to as “nature deficit disorder” in children, teens, and even adults. Nature deficit disorder is not a medical diagnosis but physicians, educators, parents, and caregivers have recognized its negative impact and want to change this pattern.

In this section, Nature Walkers wants to explore through books, articles, and websites just what “nature deficit disorder” is and how we might get ourselves and our grandchildren outdoors more – together. We, as grandparents, have the time and the experience of having grown up more in touch with the rhythm and beauty of Nature. It was part of our daily life.

We will continually add to this section, and, hopefully, begin a Book Club if there is enough interest. We hope there are other grandparents who would like to join us on our quest.

1) Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv – Louv discusses “nature deficit disorder,” what it is and how we might address it.

2) Grandparenting with the Wisdom of Nature – Barbara Frank, PH.D. – Frank discusses how important grandparents can be in re-introducing grandchildren to nature. She offers tips and encouragement for interaction.

1) Children and Nature Network –
This website was co-founded by Richard Louv and is packed with information about nature deficit disorder and ways we can get our kids back into the outdoors again.

Walking and Exploring

The best way to connect with nature is by simply walking out the door of your home. It is not necessary to travel to a special place to be in nature. It is all around us. Anywhere you go in Rossmoor, there different shrubs with interesting leaves and shapes to examine. There are moss covered rocks to observe, trees to climb, open spaces with trees and shrubs for playing hide and seek and lots of grass for running. You can be as creative as you want. Nature Walkers will be writing about places we discover, and we hope you will do the same and write us about your experiences so that we can share with other grandparents and grandchildren.

Berm Park
Berm Park is located just across from the Gateway Plaza parking lot starting on the corner of Golden Rain Road and Tice Creek Drive. It is about 0.4 miles and runs up to Entry 1 on Golden Rain Road. An easy paved path, this park is filled with all sorts of incredible wonders for grandparents and grandchildren of all ages. There is open space for running and playing. There are trees to climb and discuss. In the spring there are daffodils and blooming trees and a most beautiful Iris Garden to explore. Nature offers a plethora of wonders in this park. All you need do is follow the lead of your grandchildren.

Buckeye Grove
What an adventure this short, paved path is. Only 0.2 miles, it is a quaint grove of California Buckeye trees – located just off Buckeye Parking Lot and next to the tennis courts off Tice Valley Drive. These are truly beautiful trees with interesting bark to study, leaves to examine, and horse chestnuts to ponder. The tree trunks invite climbers.

The name “buckeye” originates from the Native American word “hetuck” meaning buckeye because the nut of this tree has markings that look like a deer’s eye.

Caution: The nuts can be toxic so make sure little ones do not put them in their mouths.

Not far from the Buckeye Grove is a planting of California Redwoods to be observed and discussed.

Both the California Buckeye and California Redwood are native to California, which can generate a great discussion with your grandchildren about the importance of native species.

This a beautiful and peaceful park that should not be missed.

Town Square
Although Town Square is not a park, there is much to be explored here and plenty of space for an outdoor lunch. Town Square is located just off the Gateway Plaza parking lot near the art studios. As you walk in, turn to your right and you will discover the most amazing totem poles next to the ceramics studio. On these totem poles there are all sorts of images like ladybugs, egrets, butterflies, and flowers. You might even see a hummingbird fluttering about them. Perhaps these totem poles will inspire you and your grandchildren to explore some art in nature – another area, with activities, we will explore.

In Town Square you can also find an interesting sundial, sage and lavender gardens nearby, sculptures, and many beautiful flowers in the spring. Bees and butterflies can often be seen visiting.

These are three suggestions to get you started on adventures with your grandchildren.
Again, please share what you discover. We will be sharing more as we explore with our grandchildren. And, by the way, you do not need a grandchild – just a child or young adult. Be a “grandfriend”! Our young ones need us!

“Every child needs a parent, grandparent or friend who will say let’s go it’s time for an adventure.”

 ~Penny Whitehouse