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How to raise a free-range child

It wasn’t so long ago that not only were there free range chickens and free range pigs and free range cattle, there were also free range children.

Fast forward to the last twenty or thirty years and we find caged chickens, penned pigs, feedlot confined cattle and housebound children.

What’s gone wrong?  It’s not as if this has happened by accident, not at all, it has been by deliberate design for the increased profits in the case of chickens, pigs and cattle and for the increased protection of children from the vagaries of a perceived dangerous society.

This self-inflicted loss of our free range selves, has consequences that we need to take on board if we aren’t to stunt the development of future generations of children that will grow to be adults and parents devoid of the necessary skills to navigate nature and care for the natural world as past generations have done.

This is one of many points raised in a conversation between Matthew Colloff and Phillips Adams (Reconciling people and place, Late Night Live, ABC RN, 30 June 2020) – that there was a time when kids were free range.  They were out and about as much if not more than they were house bound and certainly not screen bound as many young people are today.  It’s ironic that at a time when we are campaigning for battery hens, intensively housed pigged and feed lot beef cattle to be let out of their respective ‘coups’, that we humans seem to be hell bent on being couped up,  imprisoning ourselves behind gated walls and within the so called safe confines of our houses.

What does this tell us about the lifestyles we are adopting in the name of the modern advanced civilization and our definition of a high standard of living?

It could also be argued that not only are we losing our free range-ness in terms of getting out of the confines of our houses, workplaces and shopping malls, we are also losing our free wills to think independently, being bombarded as we are by news and social media 24/7.

Matthew Colloff is the author of Landscapes of Our Hearts: Reconciling people and environment.  Listen to the radio program here: Reconciling people and place

In this article from ecoParent, The Free Range Play Effect   find out about: Avoiding risk-aversion, Outdoor play reduces stress, Free range play and the mind-body connection, Nature schools, Imagination stimulates cognitive development, Nature AS school, Make play an intentional act and more. Far from these ideas being new, they are grounded in the thinking of well respected naturalists that have spoken about the human-nature connection for decades past.

Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.
– William Wordsworth

Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street.
– William Blake