“There’s no such thing as bad weather!” Now isn’t that the truth! All of us need to spend more time outdoors, and I mean all of us, including our children. This is exactly what author Linda Akeson McGurk espouses in her excellent new book, There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather.
Linda Akeson McGurk’s book, published October 3, 2017, is a much needed guide for anyone with babies or young children. Ms. McGurk is a Scandinavian woman married to an American man, living in rural Indiana with her two young girls. She relays her journey as a mother in America attempting to encourage her daughters to love the outdoors and respect the environment as much as she does. Sadly, 21st century Americans have adopted new parenting tactics with the aim to protect their children, resulting in hours of outdoor play that many of us grew up with replaced by screentime, school testing, and delayed independence.
When Ms. McGurk’s Swedish father became ill, she decided to leave Indiana for six months and take her 4 and 7 year old girls with her to Sweden for six months. The author uses this time as the primary framework for her book, examining the stark differences between Scandinavian teaching and parenting styles versus those in America. It is far more than anecdotal stories of her own experience; in fact, the book seems to be highly researched with references to numerous academic studies and quotes from leading educators and thought leaders.
Ms. McGurk’s book clearly supports that American parenting and schooling styles will be detrimental to our children’s health, independence, and learning. She proposes that we instead need to incorporate much of what the Scandinavians continue to do. Since American culture just one and two generations ago was far more similar to the modern Scandinavian way, it would have been interesting to hear a bit of her husband’s take on it, given that she states that he grew up in rural Indiana with a very outdoorsy childhood.
In the U.S. we need to rewind the clock 30-50 years and our children might once again be able to find other children to play with at a playground, at the end of a cul-d-sac, and not have to struggle to “sort shapes” and learn the alphabet at earlier and earlier ages. We need to re-establish trust in our neighbors and neighborhoods, realize that we don’t need to pressure our kids toward academic feats (particularly in the early years!), and let kids be kids and play! Using our imaginations will go a long way!
The book is eyeopening, and just like The Last Child in the Woods, Ms. McGurk’s There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather is one I highly recommend to all parents, particularly those who want to discourage screentime and regimented testing, and instead focus on outdoor, independent play for their children.
On a personal note:
Given that bundling up babies and children is something I rarely have to deal with in Southern California, I would have loved to hear Ms. McGurk’s take on getting outside in very hot climates like mine. Hiking Baby and I do our best to get outside daily, but on triple digit heat days, we often opt for a trip to the beach or the air conditioned public library. Instead of bunting bags, gloves, and hats, our stroller and gear bag have water sprayers to keep Hiking Baby cool.