Today, our children are born into a digital world. They learn how to hold a phone earlier than they utter their first words, and they become computer savvy before they get familiar with the wonders of Mother Nature. However, we need to counteract the negative effects of this alienation for the sake of their healthy development.
The importance of a strong bond between kids and nature has been studied extensively. Kids who are in constant contact with their natural environment do better in school. Spending time in nature encourages them to think, act, and explore. It engages them and expands their knowledge. It also reinforces their connection with nature and promotes their well-being. But today’s “indoor” lifestyle and parents’ fears to let their children roam free impede their exploration that was once a natural part of growing up.
This puts not only their long-term well-being at stake but also the future of the planet. The less new generations are in awe of their natural surroundings, the less likely they will be to feel strongly about protecting it. Promoting a strong bond between your child and nature is thus paramount. Here are a few ways to do it.
First things first, what you should understand is that you shouldn’t wait for the “perfect occasion” to go out and introduce your kids to nature. It does not have to be a grand trip to a magnificent national park. Everyone can find something worth exploring near them, be it a local park or even just your backyard. Incredibly, nature is all around us even in urban environments. So, don’t overthink or overplan it. The key is to start early and go often. Teach your kids that nature does not have to be spectacular to be enjoyed.
Make your outdoor space inviting
As said, sometimes, spending time in nature may not expand further than your backyard, especially in the era of lockdowns. That does not have to take away from the experience, though. Make your garden space child-friendly so your little ones will find it exciting: create fun zones for physical activity, build a hideaway that calls for adventure, make the space comfortable for relaxing with ample shade. However, steer clear of making it too artificial and leave plenty of natural materials and indigenous vegetation.
Have a goal
Make your kids more excited about going out and exploring nature by coming up with little games and challenges. Instead of just “going for a walk,” go on a scavenger hunt! Collect things like pretty leaves, pinecones, and interesting branches and display them in your home later. Or go out with the goal of feeding or watching the birds! Whatever gets them excited.
Don’t mind the weather
The next idea you may want to instill in your children is that nature is not just sunshine and butterflies. Of course, you shouldn’t go out when it’s dangerous, but it’s important to teach your children that nature isn’t to be enjoyed only when it’s sunny outside. Going out in different seasons and different weather conditions can show you an entirely different side of the same place.
Let them do their thing
Much of the bonding between kids and nature really comes down to just letting them do their own thing. Studies have found that solitary activities are extremely important in this process. It’s when they can get truly immersed and explore how the world around them works in their own way. So letting them just be outside without forcing them to conform to prearranged activities will help them develop a more comfortable attitude towards nature and let them enjoy their time spent outside better.
Give them the tools
A great way to encourage kids’ solitary explorations is by giving them tools that can help them get even more immersed. For instance, if they are interested in birds, get them a pair of binoculars. If they rather enjoy observing tiny critters, get them a magnifying glass. If they are a little older, giving them a camera so they can document what they see is also a good idea, as long as you make it a point not to be too caught up in using technology while outdoors.
Socialize at playgrounds
While solitary exploration creates connection, it’s socializing that consolidates it. Show your kids that it’s fun to be outside and play with others instead of watching cartoons all day. They will be more likely to get plenty of healthy exercise and fresh air if they are excited to leave for the playground every day. Playgrounds play an important role in the development of kids’ motor skills. In addition, commercial playground equipment is designed with creativity and safety in mind. It’s the best of both worlds.
Teach them about the environment
Finally, it’s important to give kids some guidance so they can connect what they see and experience in nature with the world they know about. Allow them to make their own deductions but be ready to explain things to them and bring their attention to things they might not notice. For instance, point out the way the sky looks and what it means in terms of weather every time you go out. Show them the way plants grow by planting a few seeds together and taking care of them every day. Come up with follow-up activities after explorations, such as drawing the animals you saw along the way.
Promoting the connection between your child and nature is a fun learning journey both of you will benefit from, including the planet. So, boost their curiosity and be ready with answers. Let them do it at their own pace but give them inspiration when they need it. It will make a difference.
Written by Frank Robertson
About the Author
My name is Frank Robertson. I’m a writer. I choose my topics carefully and try to write about topics that can help my readers. Connect with me on Twitter.
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