How Dirt Makes You Happy

Let your kids play in the dirt! Time to get off those screens and get their hands dirty!

“Prozac may not be the only way to get rid of your serious blues. Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain and are without side effects and chemical dependency potential.” 

Read more at Gardening Know How: Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy


TV in the Car?

“Why do so many Americans say they want their children to watch less TV, yet continue to expand the opportunities for them to watch it? (backseat car TV monitors). More important, why do so many people no longer consider the physical world worth watching? The highway’s edge may not be postcard perfect. But for a century, children’s early understanding of how cities and nature fit together was gained from the backseat: the empty farmhouse at the edge of the subdivision; the variety of architecture, here and there; the woods and fields and water beyond the seamy edges–all that was and is still available to the eye. This was the landscape we watched as children. It was our drive-by movie.”

Some of our best family conversations are while driving.

“Yes,” we’ll say, “it’s true. We actually looked out the car window.” In our useful boredom, we used our fingers to draw pictures on fogged glass as we watched telephone poles tick by. We saw birds on the wires and combines in the fields. We were fascinated with roadkill, and we counted cows and horses and shaving cream signs. We held our little plastic cars against the glass and pretended that they, too, were racing toward some unknown destination. We considered the past and dreamed of the future, and watched it all go by in the blink of an eye.”

“But for a century, children’s early understanding of how cities and nature fit together was gained from the backseat. This was the landscape we watched as children. It was our drive-by movie.”–Richard Louv

Is roadside America really so boring today? In some stretches, yes, but all the others are instructive in their beauty, even in their ugliness.”–From Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

This excerpt does not even mention how we all benefit in communication and relationship building without gadgets in the car.  Some of our best family conversations are while driving. Most of the time everyone is relaxed and either being silly or discussing meaningful topics. I love our family time while driving.

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Why I Limit Screen Time

Based on conversations with many people including those with kids in high school who have spent a lot of times on screens and my own research and observations, there are two big reasons I limit the amount of time:
1) Loss of will to do other things–They become unmotivated to do different activities because they are so entranced by being on the computer. We know one family whose son is in high school and won’t do anything at all but screens. No Scouting, no sports, he can’t concentrate to read, etc. So she has gone cold turkey from screens and is in a Waldorf school with her elementary-aged boys.

2) Psychiatric problems with ADD, ADHD, depression and anxiety. There are so many links here. Also, if someone told me I had a child who needed to be on psychiatric drugs then I would go cold turkey on screens and spend lots of time outdoors with lots of exercise before going this route. I would try this for several months. I have a family member who has been through hell with these drugs. Over the long run, the side effects can be devastating for the person and the family.

Overall, I am happy to let my kids have some screen time per day.They earn it just like a person earns a paycheck. It motivates my son to get his work done while my daughters are not really interested. If you ban something altogether, then they may go the opposite direction when they have the ability to do so.
I do not buy the argument that videos and screen time are good because they help you to understand technology. I agree there is excellent technology to enhance work, learning, etc. Lots of fantastic stuff, and I embrace that. However, sitting around playing video games is not an effective tool in teaching one to use effective technology. On the other hand, strategic use of technology has great benefits. I’m teaching a blogging and 21st-century skills class at our homeschool co-op in the fall. We will incorporate some strategic uses of technology.

Here is one article of many describing effects of screen time on kids’ brains:

This is What Screen Time Really Does to Kids’ Brains